Josh Ioane returns to the Highlanders’ match day 23 in what is a largely unchanged team from last Sunday’s close loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington.

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Ioane, who withdrew before the round one match against the Chiefs with a re-aggravated groin strain the injury, will get his first taste of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

“It’s been tough to be on the sidelines watching as there has been some great games going on and I’m excited to get the opportunity to get back out there” said Ioane.

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Mark Hammett speaks to media

There are no changes in the forward pack with Dillon Hunt, who left the field last week after sustaining a finger in the eye, being declared fit to play.

Jona Nareki, who has started every match so far for the Highlanders, will be given a chance to make an impact off the bench this week. Scott Gregory will move from the right-wing to the left wing, making way for Josh McKay to make his competition debut.

In the reserves, Folau Fakatava and Ethan de Groot will be included in the playing team for the first time after Kayne Hammington broke his hand in the final moments of the Hurricanes match and Daniel Lienert-Brown is unavailable due to dental surgery this week.

Should De Groot take the field, this will be his Super Rugby debut.

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Head coach Aaron Mauger is looking for improvement from his team,.

“We have had our chances in every game we’ve played and the guys are working at getting better every time they run out, we are all aware the standard of play in this competition is extremely high and  you need your very best against any team.”

Highlanders team to face Chiefs:

 

1. Ayden Johnstone

2. Ash Dixon (cc)

3. Siate Tokolahi

4. Paripari Parkinson

5. Jack Whetton

6. Shannon Frizell

7. Dillon Hunt

8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u

9. Aaron Smith (cc)

10. Mitch Hunt

11. Scott Gregory

12. Patelesio Tomkinson

13. Rob Thompson

14. Josh McKay

15. Michael Collins

 

Reserves

16. Liam Coltman

17. Ethan De Groot

18. Jeff Thwaites

19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit

20. Jesse Parete

21. Folau Fakatava

22. Josh Ioane

23. Jona Nareki

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