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Highlanders Named for Final Pre-Season Game

12 February 2022

The Highlanders have named their team for the second and final preseason match ahead of Super Rugby Pacific starting next week. They will be playing a game of three halves against the Chiefs and Blues on Saturday at the Queenstown Recreation Ground.

It has been a big week for the team relocating to the Queenstown Super Rugby bubble, but they are adjusting well to the new environment and are looking forward to the rugby ahead.

Head Coach, Tony Brown said, “We’re fortunate to be able to move to Queenstown, it’s in all our best interests to be giving ourselves the best opportunity to get this competition underway and of course we are well used to playing in Queenstown. Naturally, we would have loved to play a game in front of a crowd but for now will have to settle on knowing they’re supporting us from a far.” 

The team started their preseason off on the right foot last weekend, narrowly beating the Crusaders 20-19 in Weston and will be looking to build on this game, bolstered by the return of All Blacks Aaron Smith, Shannon Frizell and Ethan de Groot.

Smith will be eager to return to the field after sitting out the end of year All Blacks tour following the birth of his second child and both de Groot and Frizell will be keen to get some game minutes under their belts after limited showings on the end of year tour. Also returning to the fold is Marino Mikaele-Tu’u who suffered a leg injury in the final rounds of 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Additionally, Andrew Makalio, Bryn Evans and Vilimoni Koroi will also take the field for the first time in 2022.  Makalio joins the Highlanders from Crusaders and will bring experience to the front row when he takes the field. The same can be said for veteran Bryn Evans who was a revelation for the Club in 2021. Koroi rejoins the squad after spending the 2021 season with the Olympics Sevens programme.

Brown commented, “It will be good to get our three All Black’s back and it will be great to have Marino back on the field after his injury last year. This game will provide another opportunity for players to impress leading into the first round. We know the Chiefs are going to be a tough challenge first up, but we’re excited to get the comp underway.”

This game will be closed to the public however the live stream will be available to watch on the SKY Sport Next YouTube channel (https://youtu.be/IAl8l9x_tgE).




Team 1:

  1. Daniel Lienert-Brown
  2. Liam Coltman
  3. Josh Hohneck
  4. Manaaki Selby-Rickit
  5. Josh Dickson
  6. Shannon Frizell
  7. Gareth Evans
  8. Hugh Renton
  9. Aaron Smith (c)
  10. Mitch Hunt
  11. Rory Van Vugt
  12. Scott Gregory
  13. Fetuli Paea
  14. Moses Dawai
  15. Sam Gilbert

Team 2:

  1. Ethan de Groot
  2. Andrew Makalio
  3. Jermaine Ainsley
  4. Bryn Evans
  5. Manaaki Selby-Rickit
  6. Max Hicks
  7. Sean Withy
  8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u
  9. Folau Fakatava
  10. Marty Banks
  11. Scott Gregory
  12. Thomas Umaga-Jensen
  13. Josh Timu
  14. Vereniki Tikoisolomone
  15. Vilimoni Koroi

Reserves: Luca Inch, Rhys Marshall, Saula Mau, Kayne Hammington 

Injury update: Christian Lio-Willie (hand) to be replaced by Fabian Holland



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