Cape Town - Head coach Aaron Mauger has selected six Highlanders debutants in his squad to play the Sharks in their Super Rugby clash in Dunedin on Friday.
Kick-off is scheduled for 08:05 (SA time).
There will be first time appearances for flyhalf Mitch Hunt and wings Jona Nareki and Tima Fainga’anuku. Looking to debut off the bench is the versatile former Blues player, Michael Collins, who is joined by loose forward, Teariki Ben-Nicholas and lock cover Jesse Parete.
Having made his debut in 2016 and becoming a backline mainstay since, Rob Thompson will play his 50th game for the Highlanders. A strong running centre his experience and midfield combination with Josh Ioane should provide plenty of attacking firepower against the Sharks who started their season with a 23-15 win over the Bulls in Durban.
"The squad has worked very hard during the preseason and the players are excited by the opportunity to play in front of our home supporters at our stadium,” Mauger told the Highlanders’ official website.
The Highlanders, who had a bye in Round 1, will be captained by Otago loose forward James Lentjes.
15 Josh McKay, 14 Tima Fainga’anuku, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Josh Ioane, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 James Lentjes (captain), 6 Dillon Hunt, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone
Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Michael Collins, 23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas