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Speight’s Highlanders to play the Crusaders

24 February 2021

The opening round of Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa will feature the two Southern clubs first battle of the season. The Highlanders will host the Crusaders in what promises to be an epic encounter. Always hard-fought, the Highlanders will be looking to begin their season strongly against the reigning Sup Rugby Aotearoa Champions.

Highlander’s Head Coach, Tony Brown, has opted for a six forward, two back split on the bench which includes All Blacks Liam Coltman, Liam Squire and Josh Ioane as well as Highlanders debutants Hugh Renton and Bryn Evans. In the starting line-up Otago lock, Jack Regan, off the back of some good preseason performances will partner his provincial teammate, Josh Dickson in the middle row. New loose forward recruit, Billy Harmon, will wear the number 7 jersey against his former team and with Shannon Frizell and Marino Mikaele Tu’u forms a strong loose trio.

Also making their debut for the Highlanders are Connor Garden-Bachop and Solomon Alaimalo. Garden-Bachop missed all of last season with injury but has looked impressive in the preseason while Alaimalo will be looking to continue the good form he showed for the Chiefs last year.

Following the conclusion of the game on Friday night, there will be a pounamu mere presented to Co-Captain Ash Dixon to acknowledge his achievement of 100 games for a Super Rugby Club. Dixon played his 100th game against the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch on 9th August 2020 however the presentation was delayed until it could be made in front of a home crowd.  


Highlanders v Crusaders – 7.05pm, Friday 26th February, Forsyth Barr Stadium

1.   Daniel Lienert-Brown

2.   Ash Dixon (cc)

3.   Siate Tokolahi

4.   Josh Dickson

5.   Jack Regan

6.   Shannon Frizell

7.   Billy Harmon

8.   Marino Mikaele-Tu’u

9.   Aaron Smith (cc)

10. Mitch Hunt

11  Jona Nareki

12. Patelesio Tomkinson

13. Ngatungane Punivai

14. Connor Garden-Bachop

15. Solomon Alaimalo



16. Liam Coltman

17. Josh Hohneck

18. Jeff Thwaites

19. Bryn Evans

20. Liam Squire

21. Folau Fakatava

22. Josh Ioane

23. Hugh Renton


Unavailable due to injury: Sam Gilbert (knee), Ayden Johnstone (Concussion), Pari Pari Parkinson (ankle)

Season ending injuries: Jermaine Ainsley (ankle), Fetuli Paea (ankle)




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