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Highlanders name team for Aaron Smith’s final home game

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

The Highlanders have made an interesting selection call ahead of Aaron Smith’s final home game in Dunedin against the Queensland Reds on Friday.


Smith has been named at halfback ahead of his 184th appearance for the Highlanders this week. But, the Highlanders have made an especially intriguing decision at fullback.

Mitch Hunt, who has played most of the season at flyhalf, has been promoted from the bench ahead of the round 14 clash – and will start in the No. 15 jersey.

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Coach Clarke Dermody has made four changes to the starting side, including two changes in the forward pack.

Pari Par Parkinson returns to the first XV this week, while Shannon Frizell shifts from the second row back to his usual position of blindside flanker.

As for the backline, Smith will partner former England flyhalf Freddie Burns in the halves once again this week.

But the two changes come at centre and fullback, with Thomas Umaga-Jensen replacing Fetuli Paea in the No. 13 jersey.



In their last home game of the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season, with the Highlanders will look to farewell potentially the franchises’ best-ever player with a win.

In the race for the finals, it’s also a must-win clash.

The match is set to get underway at 7.05pm NZST at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday.

Highlanders team to take on Reds

  1. Ethan de Groot
  2. Andrew Makalio
  3. Jermaine Ainsley
  4. Pari Pari Parkinson
  5. Max Hicks
  6. Shannon Frizell
  7. Billy Harmon (c)
  8. Hugh Renton
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Freddie Burns
  11. Jona Nareki
  12. Sam Gilbert
  13. Thomas Umaga-Jensen
  14. Jonah Lowe
  15. Mitch Hunt


  1. Rhys Marshall
  2. Daniel Lienert-Brown
  3. Saula Ma’u
  4. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u
  5. Sean Withy
  6. Folau Fakatava
  7. Connor Garden-Bachop
  8. Scott Gregory

Not available due to injury: Vili Koroi, Marty Banks Jeff Thwaites, Josh Timu, Jake Te Hiwi, Cameron Millar, Fabian Holland, Josh Dickson, Will Tucker


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