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Highlanders name team for Chiefs as they look to keep play-off hopes alive

By Ben Smith
Connor Garden-Bachop of the Highlanders looks on after being defeated during the round nine Super Rugby Pacific match between Western Force and Highlanders at HBF Park, on April 22, 2023, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The Highlanders have returned from their Australian road trip and are gearing up to face the table-topping Chiefs.


Despite some unfavourable results on their trip, the Highlanders still have plenty to play for in the remaining rounds as they eye a spot in the playoffs.

Captain Billy Harmon is set to return to the forward pack after missing the Waratahs match, while lock Josh Dickson is back in the playing twenty-three.

In the backline, Sam Gilbert returns to fullback and Thomas Umaga-Jensen moves to the midfield, with Connor Garden-Bachop taking Jonah Lowe’s spot on the wing.

For his first start at first-five, Freddie Burns will take over from Mitch Hunt. The experienced Burns boasts a strong kicking game and showcased his running abilities against the Force.

With 300 first-class games under his belt, he’s no stranger to the pressure of a big home game.

Coach Clarke Dermody is relieved to be back home after a challenging few games on the road.

“We didn’t get the results we wanted in our last two away games, so we’re thrilled to be back at home this week with our fate still in our own hands.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our players to bring their A-game against the competition frontrunners.


“We’ve had some nail-biting clashes with the Chiefs in the past, so we’ll be putting in the hard yards to give our home fans something to cheer about on Friday night.”

Highlanders team to face Chiefs:

1. Ethan de Groot
2. Andrew Makalio
3. Jermaine Ainsley
4. Fabian Holland
5. Will Tucker
6. Shannon Frizell
7. Billy Harmon (c)
8. Hugh Renton
9. Aaron Smith
10. Freddie Burns
11. Scott Gregory
12. Thomas Umaga-Jensen
13. Fetuli Paea
14. Connor Garden-Bachop
15. Sam Gilbert

Reserves: 16. Rhys Marshall 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown 18. Saula Ma’u 19. Josh Dickson 20. Sean Withy 21. Folau Fakatava 22. Mitch Hunt 23. Jona Nareki


Not Available due to injury: Vili Koroi (knee) Marty Banks (groin) Jeff Thwaites (back) Josh Timu (leg) Jake Te Hiwi (ankle) Cameron Millar (ankle)




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