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Jona Nareki and Pari Pari Parkinson fit for action as Highlanders name team for Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final

By Tom Vinicombe
Jona Nareki. (Photo by Joe Allison/Photosport)

For the first time this season, the Highlanders have named an unchanged lineup and the southerners will enter the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final with an incredibly settled team.

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Damaging left wing Jona Nareki and second row enforcer Pari Pari Parkinson both left the field early against the Brumbies last weekend after suffering shoulder knocks and were possible exclusions for the grand final but have been judged fit for the game.

Talismanic leader Ash Dixonthis week named captain of the Maori All Blacks – will play his 100th game for the Highlander on Saturday night at Eden Park.

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This week’s panel of Ross Karl, James Parsons and Joey Wheeler talk about all the action and news from the week of rugby in New Zealand and across the world.

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This week’s panel of Ross Karl, James Parsons and Joey Wheeler talk about all the action and news from the week of rugby in New Zealand and across the world.

Both finalists enter the match unbeaten in the Trans-Tasman competition, only separated on the ladder by points differential.

The Highlanders had the wood over the Blues in their last encounter, winning 35-29 in Dunedin in mid-April. The hosts, however, won the last match between the two sides in Auckland and will enter the game as favourites.

Highlanders: Josh Ioane, Patelesio Tomkinson, Michael Collins, Scott Gregory, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Kazuki Himeno, Billy Harmon, Hugh Renton, Bryn Evans, Pari Pari Parkinson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon, Ethan de Groot. Reserves: Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone, Josh Hohneck, Josh Dickson, James Lentjes, Kayne Hammington, Sam Gilbert, Teariki Ben-Nicholas.

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Jon 1 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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