Head Coach, Aaron Mauger, has selected six Highlander debutants in his team to play the Sharks in the season opener at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday night. There will be first time appearances for first five Mitch Hunt and wings Jona Nareki and Tima Fainga’anuku. Looking to debut off the bench is the versatile former Blues player, Michael Collins, who is joined by loose forward, Teariki Ben-Nicholas and lock cover Jesse Parete.

Having made his debut in 2016 and becoming a backline mainstay since, Rob Thompson will play his 50th game for the Highlanders on Friday night. A strong running centre his experience and midfield combination with Josh Ioane should provide plenty of attacking firepower against the Sharks who started their season with a win in round one.

Coach Mauger said the team are looking forward to the occasion, “the squad has worked very hard during the preseason and the players are excited by the opportunity to play in front of our home supporters at our stadium.”

The team will be captained by Otago loose forward James Lentjes.


1. Ayden Johnstone                                            

2. Liam Coltman

3. Siate Tokolahi

4. Paripari Parkinson

5. Josh Dickson

6. Dillon Hunt

7. James Lentjes (C)

8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u

9. Aaron Smith

10. Mitch Hunt

11. Jona Nareki

12. Josh Ioane

13. Rob Thompson

14. Tima Fainga’anuku

15. Josh McKay



16. Ash Dixon

17. Daniel Lienert-Brown

18. Josh Iosefa-Scott

19. Jesse Parete

20. Shannon Frizell

21. Kayne Hammington

22. Michael Collins

23. Teariki Ben-Nicholas

Unavailable due to injury: Jeff Thwaites (foot), Tevita Nabura (back), Thomas Umaga-Jensen (shoulder), Teihorangi Walden (ribs), Ngane Punivai (knee)

Season ending injuries: Connor Garden-Bachop (back), Ricky Jackson (ankle)


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