For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, two professional rugby teams will walk out onto a park and play in front of a live audience at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand. What seemed like a dream a few weeks ago, has now become a reality. An already big occasion., it will be particularly special night for two young men running out in a Highlanders jersey for the first time.

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Pulse Energy Highlanders Head Coach, Aaron Mauger, has selected Sam Gilbert and Vilimoni Koroi in to play the Chiefs in the Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa season opener on Saturday night.

Gilbert, who will start on the right wing, played for Canterbury last season and for the Crusader Knights earlier this year. Koroi was training with the All Black Sevens team but has rejoined the Highlanders since the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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Kirstie Stanway and Israel Dagg talk to rugby players from around New Zealand as they gear up for week one of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Josh Ioane returns to the number 10 jersey and Mitch Hunt reverts to fullback, Ioane spent the earlier part of the season in the midfield but will be comfortable returning to first-five where he has spent most of his career. Patelesio Tomkinson claims the midfield spot and will partner Rob Thompson, with the experienced Teihorangi Walden set to make his impact from the bench.

Pari Pari Parkinson has worked his way back to a starting lock position and will partner Josh Dickson. The team will be captained by experienced hooker Ash Dixon who starts ahead of Liam Coltman this week with both likely to see significant game time.

Pulse Energy Highlanders v Chiefs, Saturday 13 June, 7.05pm Forsyth Barr Stadium Dunedin

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1. Ayden Johnstone
2. Ash Dixon (C)
3. Siate Tokolahi
4. Paripari Parkinson
5. Josh Dickson
6. Shannon Frizell
7. Dillon Hunt
8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u
9. Aaron Smith
10. Josh Ioane
11. Jona Nareki
12. Patelesio Tomkinson
13. Rob Thompson
14. Sam Gilbert
15. Mitch Hunt

RESERVES
16. Liam Coltman
17. Daniel Lienert-Brown
18. Jeff Thwaites
19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit
20. Teariki Ben-Nicholas
21. Kayne Hammington
22. Teihorangi Walden
23. Vilimoni Koroi

– Highlanders Rugby

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