Highlanders lock Josh Dickson returns from suspension for Reds clash
Dickson was handed a three-week suspension by SANZAAR after being sent from the field for a high tackle on Hurricanes prop Tevita Mafileo last month, a ban that was set to rule him out until next week’s match against the Western Force.
However, the 27-year-old is back a week earlier than originally planned after serving only two weeks of his suspension, freeing him up to face the Reds in Brisbane on Friday.
The addition of Dickson to the starting Highlanders side – at the expense of Sam Caird – is one of three made from the team that defeated the Fijian Drua in Suva last weekend.
The only other changes come at hooker, where former All Blacks rake Liam Coltman swaps in for Andrew Makalio, while flanker James Lentjes has been given the status of co-captain after coming in at No 6 in place of Christian Lio-Willie.
It’s the first time this season that Lentjes has been named as co-captain alongside regular skipper Aaron Smith.
“It’s great to have Colty, Jimmy and Josh back for this one,” Highlanders head coach Tony Brown said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The Reds are very strong up front, and it will be a tough old night for the small numbers and we’re counting on energy off the bench when they’re called on as we know we will need all hands-on deck Friday night.”
Brown added that he expects a strong challenge from the Brad Thorn-coached Reds, who have enjoyed eight wins from 11 matches over the Highlanders in Brisbane since the beginning of Super Rugby.
“The Reds are the current Australian Super Rugby champions and their form this year has again been right up there having won seven from ten. Brad has instilled a lot of confidence into his troops, and this will be a tough game for us no doubt.”
One extra change has been made in the reserves, as experienced tighthead prop Josh Hohneck drops out to take way for youngster Saula Ma’u.
Kick-off for Friday’s game is scheduled for 7:45pm local time [9:45pm NZT].
Highlanders team to face Reds
1. Ethan de Groot
2. Liam Coltman
3. Josh Hohneck
4. Bryn Evans
5. Josh Dickson
6. James Lentjes (co-c)
7. Billy Harmon
8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u
9. Aaron Smith (co-c)
10. Mitch Hunt
11. Scott Gregory
12. Fetuli Paea
13. Thomas Umaga-Jensen
14. Sam Gilbert
15. Connor Garden-Bachop
16. Rhys Marshall
17. Daniel Lienert-Brown
18. Saula Ma’u
19. Max Hicks
20. Hugh Renton
21. Folau Fakatava
22. Marty Banks
23. Mosese Dawai
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