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Highlanders Named to Play Force in Invercargill

17 March 2023


Sunday afternoon rugby makes a rare appearance on the Highlanders calendar with a game against the Western Force in Invercargill.

Head Coach Clarke Dermody has brought Andrew Makalio back into the front row for the important clash. In the middle row the youngest member of the squad, Fabian Holland, will partner with the oldest player, and Southland Stag stalwart, Josh Bekhuis. Hugh Renton after a strong game against the Chiefs returns at eight as does Captain Billy Harmon at seven. Wellington tighthead PJ Sheck comes onto the bench for his debut for the injured Saula Ma’u.

The backs division is bolstered by the return from injury of Jonah Lowe, Sam Gilbert and Josh Timu, and a another starting opportunity for Martin Bogado. Folau Fakatava is back from his All Black break and will be keen to continue his impact from the bench. It will be a debut for young pivot Cameron Millar at a ground where he would have watched plenty of rugby while growing up in Gore.

Coach Dermody knows the team will need to improve to record their first win.

“The start to our season has not been easy.   We acknowledge our performances haven’t been where we want them to be but look forward to showing what we have learnt from our defeats. The Force will be wanting to start a tough tour of New Zealand well no doubt.  However our boys are excited about getting down to Invercargill to play in front of our Southern most fans.”

Highlanders v Force, Rugby Park, Invercargill, Sunday 19 March 3.35pm

  1. Ethan de Groot
  2. Andrew Makalio
  3. Jermaine Ainsley
  4. Fabian Holland
  5. Josh Bekhuis
  6. Shannon Frizell
  7. Billy Harmon (C)
  8. Hugh Renton
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Mitch Hunt
  11. Jonah Lowe
  12. Thomas Umaga-Jensen
  13. Josh Timu
  14. Martin Bogado
  15. Sam Gilbert

Reserves: 16. Rhys Marshall 17. Ayden Johnstone 18. P.J.Sheck 19. Max Hicks 20. James Lentjes 21. Folau Fakatava 22. Cameron Millar 23. Connor Garden-Bachop

Not Available due to injury: Vili Koroi (knee) Marty Banks (groin) Jona Nareki (foot) Marino Mikaele Tu’u (ribs) Scott Gregory (knee) Jeff Thwaites (back) Will Tucker (groin) Saula Ma’u (chest) Freddie Burns (knee) Josh Dickson (illness) Paripari Parkinson (Concussion) Mosese Dawai (knee)




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