Smith, Frizell and de Groot to return for Chiefs clash
8 March 2023
Some experience returns for the Highlanders for their third-round match against Chiefs with Head Coach Clarke Dermody welcoming back the Highlanders’ most capped player, Aaron Smith.
Smith will be itching to return to the park after sitting out the opening rounds as the Highlanders have started with back-to-back losses against last season’s finalists the Blues and Crusaders.
He will be joined by fellow All Blacks Ethan de Groot and Shannon Frizell as they return from their breaks to take on the high-flying Chiefs at home in Hamilton on Friday night.
Injury continues to plague the outside backs as Jonah Lowe (concussion) and Sam Gilbert (shoulder) join the already sidelined Jona Nareki (foot) and Vili Koroi (knee) on the injury list. This means Argentinian Martin Bogado will make his second appearance for the season as he and Mosese Dawai make the starting fifteen for the first time. English import Freddie Burns moves from first-five to fullback while the impressive midfield pairing of Thomas Umaga-Jensen and Josh Timu remains intact.
Up front Hugh Renton returns from injury to earn his first game in 2023, Josh Dickson returns at lock and the side will be captained by James Lentjes in the absence of Billy Harmon. Harmon and Folau Fakatava will observe their All Black breaks this week.
Leni Apisai comes onto the bench at hooker and a welcome return from injury for Fetuli Paea and Fabian Holland gives the Highlanders some firepower for later in the game.
Highlanders v Chiefs – 7:05pm, Friday 10th March, FMG Stadium, Hamilton
- Ethan de Groot
- Rhys Marshall
- Jermaine Ainsley
- Pari Pari Parkinson
- Josh Dickson
- Shannon Frizell
- James Lentjes (C)
- Hugh Renton
- Aaron Smith
- Mitch Hunt
- Mosese Dawai
- Thomas Umaga-Jensen
- Josh Timu
- Martin Bogado
- Freddie Burns
Reserves: 16. Leni Apisai 17. Ayden Johnstone 18. Saula Mau 19. Fabian Holland 20. Sean Withy 21. Kemara Hauiti-Parapara Fetuli Paea 23. Connor Garden-Bachop
Not Available due to injury: Marty Banks (groin), Sam Gilbert (shoulder), Scott Gregory (knee), Vili Koroi (knee), Jonah Lowe (concussion), Marino Mikaele-Tu’u (ribs), Jona Nareki (foot), Jeff Thwaites (back), Will Tucker (groin).