The Highlanders have retained most of last week’s team to play the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday night but the addition of a former Queensland Reds winger should get fans excited.
There are no changes to the forward pack that earned a last-minute victory against the Brumbies last week. However, a conventional five: three split on the bench means there is no room for Dillon Hunt this week.
In the backs, the reliable Michael Collins moves to fullback and Josh McKay to the bench.
The suspended Patelesio Tomkinson is replaced by Kirisi Kuridrani for his debut performance. Kuridrani, who is the brother of former Fiji and Crusaders superstar Nemani Nadolo, previously played Super Rugby for the Reds.
He has represented both Fijian and Australian age-grade sides and spent two seasons in Japan before suiting up for Counties Manukau in the 2019 Mitre 10 Cup.
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The combination of Mitch Hunt and Josh Ioane will continue for another week and Rob Thompson returns from injury to play at centre which sees Teihorangi Walden drop to the bench.
Head Coach, Aaron Mauger has shown faith in the team that did the job against the Brumbies but understands playing the Crusaders in Christchurch presents a different challenge.
“Their record at home tells you all you need to know about how well they play in Christchurch, every team that plays there knows what to expect,” Mauger said.
“This week for us is about enjoying another opportunity to test ourselves and we are looking forward to that.”
Highlanders: Michael Collins, Kurisi Kuridrani, Rob Thompson, Josh Ioane, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, James Lentjes (c), Shannon Frizell, Josh Dickson, Jesse Parete, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Conan O’Donnell, Jack Whetton, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Kayne Hammington, Teihorangi Walden, Josh McKay.
– with Highlanders Rugby
WATCH: The RugbyPass Original, “Nemani”, explores the life and career of Fijian rugby legend Nemani Nadolo.
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