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The Highlanders have stayed largely with the team that has played in the first three matches of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.
Siate Tokolahi will play his 50th game for the Highlanders after making his debut in 2017, following two seasons with the Chiefs. The Tongan born Tokolahi has recently announced his signing with the Southland Stags and returns to the starting front row with co-captain Ash Dixon and Ayden Johnstone.
Scott Gregory also returns to the starting side on the right wing in place of the injured Ngatungane Punivai. In the forwards, lock Jack Whetton earns a start after an impressive showing off the bench against the Crusaders. Whetton replaced the well-performed Josh Dickson who sustained a broken leg and will unfortunately have to sit out the rest of the Super Rugby season.
A 6:2 forwards to backs bench split gives Manaaki Selby-Rickit an opportunity this week alongside Jesse Parete and Teariki Ben-Nicholas while Kayne Hammington and Bryn Gatland will cover the backs.
The hosts, meanwhile, have made five changes to the starting side from the team that bested the Chiefs in Hamilton last weekend for this Sunday’s match.
Co-captain Dane Coles, along with fellow forwards Fraser Armstrong and Reed Prinsep suffered minor injuries in the victory over the Chiefs and will sit out Sunday’s match. Tyro Asafo Aumua will take Coles’ spot in the hooking berth with Ben May joining him in the front row. Rookie Devan Flanders will slot in for Prinsep at blindside flanker.
In the backs, Fletcher Smith gets his first opportunity of the competition, taking over from Jackson Garden-Bachopp in the key playmaker role, while Vince Aso is reinstated at centre in place of Peter Umaga-Jensen.
Murphy Taramai joins the bench and has the opportunity to make his Hurricanes debut after representing the Blues for two seasons.
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