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No Aaron Smith as Highlanders name team for Hurricanes clash

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Super Rugby veteran Aaron Smith will not suit up for the Highlanders on Saturday night when they take on the high-flying Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium.


Smith has been ruled out of the New Zealand derby due to family reasons. In his place, All Black Folau Fakatava will start his first match in the No. 9 jersey since round one.

The Highlanders have made four changes to their starting XV ahead of their highly anticipated clash with the Hurricanes at 7:05pm NZT on Saturday.

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Looking for their fourth straight win, the Highlanders have welcomed back some genuine star power for this clash.

Hooker Andrew Makalio has been promoted to the starting side this week, while Josh Dickson and Shannon Frizell are also set to return to the run-on XV.

Billy Harmon will lead the team from openside flanker, while the in-form Hugh Renton has held his place in the backrow.

As for the backline, the inclusion of Folau Fakatava is the only change. The All Black will partner flyhalf Mitch Hunt in the halves.


Scott Gregory could potentially make his return to Super Rugby Pacific this week after being named on the bench.


Coach Clarke Dermody is expecting “a great test” on Saturday, as the Highlanders prepare to take on one of the form teams of the competition so far.

“The Hurricanes are (an) in-form team who rightly sit near the top of the table,” Dermody said in a statement.

“We are under no illusions how much of a challenge they will present.

“It will be a great test of our game against a team of real quality.


“We are looking forward to the opportunity, particularly at home in front of our fans.”


Highlanders team to take on Hurricanes

  1. Ethan de Groot
  2. Andrew Makalio
  3. Jermaine Ainsley
  4. Pari Pari Parkinson
  5. Josh Dickson
  6. Shannon Frizell
  7. Billy Harmon (c)
  8. Hugh Renton
  9. Folau Fakatava
  10. Mitch Hunt
  11. Jonah Lowe
  12. Thomas Umaga-Jensen
  13. Fetuli Paea
  14. Mosese Dawai
  15. Sam Gilbert


  1. Leni Apisai
  2. Daniel Lienert-Brown
  3. Saula Ma’u
  4. Max Hicks
  5. Sean Withy
  6. James Arscott
  7. Scott Gregory
  8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u

Not available due to injury: Vili Koroi, Marty Banks, Jona Nareki, Jeff Thwaites, Freddie Burns, Rhys Marshall, Josh Timu, Will Tucker, Jake Te Hiwi, Martin Bogado, Connor Garden-Bachop


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