Both teams played in South Africa in Round 6 and suffered losses so will be looking to turn those results around.
Johnstone’s injury provides an opportunity for young Southland prop Ethan de Groot to get his first start for the Highlanders. He will be partnered by experienced hooker Ash Dixon, who will take over as captain, alongside Siate Tokolahi.
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Making their debuts off the bench are young Canterbury lock Will Tucker and experienced hooker Nathan Vella.
There is some good news in the lock department as Josh Dickson has returned from injury and will partner Manaaki Selby-Rickit in the middle row.
In the backs, Patelesio Tomkinson, returns to the team following his suspension and experienced midfield back Teihorangi Walden comes into the midfield moving Josh Ioane to fullback. Folau Fakatava makes the matchday 23 for the first time in 2020.
Highlanders: Josh Ioane, Patelesio Tomkinson, Ngane Punivai, Teihorangi Walden, Tima Fainga’anuku, Mitch Hunt, Kayne Hammington, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Dillon Hunt, Shannon Frizell, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Josh Dickson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon (c), Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Nathan Vella, Ethan de Groot, Jeff Thwaites, Will Tucker, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Folau Fakatava, Michael Collins, Josh McKay.
– Highlanders Rugby
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