The penultimate weekend of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa brings another classic local derby. This time it’s the battle of the Mainland and it’s a game that could decide the tournament with the Crusaders a win away from clinching the inaugural title. That won’t be on the mind of the Highlanders though as any time the Highlanders play the Crusaders there is always plenty of motivation such is the rich history of the southern clash. 

A settled looking Highlanders team has been named for the Sunday fixture, with only Jona Nareki coming in for Scott Gregory in the starting team. Nareki, a regular starter in the early part of the season, has made a real impact off the bench in the last two outings and been rewarded with the number 11 jersey. The rest of the starting team will get another opportunity to test themselves in what has been the toughest Super Rugby competition in recent years.

On the bench there is a six/two split with Daniel Lienert-Brown returning along with Teariki Ben-Nicholas and Ngatungane Punivai. 

Head Coach, Aaron Mauger, is looking for an improved performance from his team, “I didn’t feel we did ourselves justice last week as we allowed the Blues to dominate us early and rack up some points. We were better in the back half, but it was too late. Playing the Crusaders, we know we will have to be tuned in from the very start but it’s another great opportunity for our guys to prove themselves against the competition leaders.” 

Crusaders v Pulse Energy Highlanders – 3.35pm, Sunday 9 August, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch


1. Ayden Johnstone 

2. Ash Dixon (cc) 

3. Jeff Thwaites 

4. Pari Pari Parkinson 

5. Jack Whetton 

6. Shannon Frizell 

7. Dillon Hunt 

8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u 

9. Aaron Smith (cc) 

10. Josh Ioane 

11. Jona Nareki 

12. Patelesio Tomkinson 

13. Michael Collins 

14. Josh McKay 

15. Mitch Hunt



16. Liam Coltman

17. Daniel Lienert-Brown

18. Siate Tokolahi

19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit

20. Jesse Parete

21. Folau Fakatava

22. Ngatungane Punivai

23. Teariki Ben-Nicholas

Unavailable due to injury: Nathan Vella (concussion)

Season ending injuries: Sione Misiloi (foot), Thomas Umaga-Jensen (shoulder), James Lentjes (ankle), Conor Garden-Bachop (back), Sam Gilbert (knee), Josh Dickson (leg), Kayne Hammington (hand)


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