Marty Banks wins race to wear Highlanders No 10 jersey
As the Highlanders prepare to return to Melbourne for the final round of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific Season, they know they have a very specific job to do. While currently in the eighth and final play-off position, a mid-week full points win by the Western Force has them nipping at the Highlander’s heels.
The Sunday afternoon game against the Rebels will give the team the opportunity to finish the regular season off on the right foot after a disappointing showing against the NSW Waratahs the previous Sunday.
Head coach Tony Brown is looking forward to the weekend’s game, “Last week was tough but we’re in a better position already as we’ve got more guys fit and healthy. The team has trained well this week and we’re expecting a tough game against the Rebels on Sunday as they’ve got nothing to lose and we’re playing to stay alive.”
Changes to the front row sees the return of Ethan de Groot from his one-week break and Andrew Makalio named at hooker, replacing Liam Coltman who suffered a calf injury last weekend. Bryn Evans also comes back to the second row after a week off. The remainder of the second row and loose forward trio has a familiar look with Dickson, Lentjes, Harmon and Mikaele-Tu’u in their regular positions.
The experienced Marty Banks will lead the team from first five and link up in the midfield with Thomas Umaga-Jensen and Josh Timu. Umaga-Jensen was pulled from the starting line-up before the game against the Waratahs with a minor back strain that has since resolved. The powerful second five will again partner with the hardworking centre in hopes of replicating the impact of the midfield against the Force in Round 13.
Brown, added, “We’re pretty lucky to have a player like Banksy to call on. He’s got big-game experience, a calm head and an educated boot and with Thomas and Timu combining outside him we’ll have a few options to keep them guessing.”
Daniel Lienert-Brown will take the field for his 100th Highlander’s game when called on from the bench, joining fellow Club legends such Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Liam Coltman, Anton Oliver, Jimmy Cowan, Chris King, Elliot Dixon, and Ash Dixon.
Highlanders: Liam Coombes-Fabling, Fetuli Paea, Josh Timu, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Rory van Vugt, Marty Banks, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Billy Harmon, James Lentjes, Josh Dickson, Bryn Evans, Jermaine Ainsley, Andrew Makalio, Ethan de Groot. Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Saula Ma’u, Sam Caird, Hugh Renton, Folau Fakatava, Vilimoni Koroi, Denny Solomona.
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