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Young back row named by Highlanders to face Crusaders

By Ben Smith
Nikora Broughton of the Highlanders charges forward during the round 11 Super Rugby Pacific match between Moana Pasifika and Highlanders at Teufaiva Sport Stadium, on May 04, 2024, in Nuku'alofa, Tonga. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The Highlanders have named a young back row to take the Crusaders as they look to end a multi-year losing streak against New Zealand teams.

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It won’t be easy with the Crusaders boosted by multiple All Blacks and winning nine of the last 10 against the Highlanders. The last win was back in 2021 by 33-12.

Fixture
Super Rugby Pacific
Highlanders
32 - 29
Full-time
Crusaders
All Stats and Data

Captain Billy Harmon will miss the match after cutting his hand against Moana Pasifika in Tonga, which means Sean Withy will start at openside with Oliver Haig named on the blindside. Firebrand loose forward Nikora Broughton has been named at No.8 to round out the young trio.

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Elsewhere in the team Cam Miller will start again at first five-eighth along with Folau Fakatava, while Jake Te Hiwi will start in the midfield with Tanielu Tele’a.

“I was pleased with how Cam led the team last week, especially when Billy had to leave the field in Tonga, he stepped up and he’s been given the opportunity to that again for us this week,” head coach Clarke Dermody said.

Connor Garden-Bachop will miss the game due to HIA protocols while former New Zealand U20 fullback Finn Hurley has been named on the bench.

“We’re at the business end of the season and this game is important, not just because of the history tied to the rivalry, but also because every point counts towards the end of the season,” Dermody said.

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Highlanders team to play the Crusaders:

1. Ethan de Groot (c)
2. Henry Bell
3. Jermaine Ainsley
4. Mitch Dunshea
5. Fabian Holland
6. Oliver Haig
7. Sean Withy
8. Nikora Broughton
9. Folau Fakatava
1o. Cameron Millar
11. Martín Bogado
12. Jake Te Hiwi
13. Tanielu Tele’a
14. Timoci Tavatavanawai
15. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

RESERVES

16. Jack Taylor
17. Ayden Johnstone
18. Saula Ma’u
19. Will Tucker
20. Will Stodart
21. James Arscott
22. Sam Gilbert
23. Finn Hurley

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