Two players making their Super Rugby debut and a six forward, two back split on the reserves bench are features of the Highlanders’ team named to play the Cheetahs. The debutants are Tasman lock Alex Ainley who comes into the side for Tom Franklin, and Hawkes Bay winger Ryan Tongia who replaces the injured Waisake Naholo. Ainley, a seasoned ITM cup campaigner, returns from a fractured jaw sustained playing club rugby two months ago, while league convert, Ryan Tongia, makes the team after less than a year in the game. The only other change is at openside where John Hardie replaces Dan Pryor.

Cheetahs v Highlanders, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein - Sunday 17th May, 5.10am (NZT)
1.   Brendon Edmonds
2.   Liam Coltman
3.   Josh Hohneck6 
4.   Alex Ainley
5.   Mark Reddish
6.   Gareth Evans
7.   John Hardie
8.   Nasi Manu (c)
9.   Aaron Smith
10. Lima Sopoaga
11. Patrick Osborne
12. Richard Buckman
13. Malakai Fekitoa
14. Ryan Tongia
15. Ben Smith (c)

16. Ash Dixon
17. Daniel Lienert-Brown
18. Ross Geldenhuys
19. Tom Franklin
20. Elliot Dixon
21. Dan Pryor
22. Fumiaki Tanaka
23. Marty Banks

Unavailable: Shane Christie (hamstring) Hayden Parker (shoulder) Joe Wheeler (knee) Kane Hames (knee) Waisake Naholo (foot)

Head Coach: Jamie Joseph

Assistant Coaches: Tony Brown, Scott McLeod

Manager: Paul McLaughlan

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