The Pulse Energy Highlanders have retained most of last week’s team to play the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday night. There are no changes to the forward pack that earned a last-minute victory against the Brumbies last week. However, a conventional five: three split on the bench means there is no room for Dillon Hunt this week.

In the backs, the reliable Michael Collins moves to fullback and Josh McKay to the bench. The suspended Patelesio Tomkinson is replaced by Kirisi Kuridrani for his debut performance. The combination of Mitch Hunt and Josh Ioane will continue for another week and Rob Thompson returns from injury to play at centre.

Head Coach, Aaron Mauger has shown faith in the team that did the job against the Brumbies but understands playing the Crusaders in Christchurch presents a different challenge, “their record at home tells you all you need to know about how well they play in Christchurch, every team that plays there knows what to expect. This week for us is about enjoying another opportunity to test ourselves and we are looking forward to that.”

An additional mainland challenge will occur on Saturday when the Highlander’s Bravehearts take on the Crusaders Development team at Rugby Park at 1.30pm on Saturday.

Pulse Energy Highlanders v Crusaders – 7.05, Friday 21 February, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch

1. Ayden Johnstone                                            

2. Liam Coltman

3. Siate Tokolahi

4. Jesse Parete

5. Josh Dickson

6. Shannon Frizell

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. Kirisi Kuridrani

15. Michael Collins


16. Ash Dixon

17. Daniel Lienert-Brown

18. Conan O’Donnell

19. Jack Whetton

20. Teariki Ben-Nicholas

21. Kayne Hammington

22. Teihorangi Walden

23. Josh McKay

Unavailable due to injury: Tevita Nabura (back), Thomas Umaga-Jensen (shoulder)

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



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