Super Rugby

Two debutants for Highlanders as Super Rugby Aoteroa kicks off

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Aaron Mauger (Getty Images)
Aaron Mauger (Getty Images)

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger has selected debutants Sam Gilbert and Vilimoni Koroi to face the Chiefs in their Super Rugby Aotearoa season opener on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 09:05 (SA time).

Gilbert, who will start on the right wing, played for Canterbury last season and for the Crusader Knights earlier this year. Koroi was training with the All Black Sevens team but has rejoined the Highlanders since the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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Josh Ioane returns to the No 10 jersey and Mitch Hunt reverts to fullback. Ioane spent the earlier part of the season in the midfield but will be comfortable returning to flyhalf where he has spent most of his career.

Patelesio Tomkinson claims the midfield spot and will partner Rob Thompson, with the experienced Teihorangi Walden set to make his impact from the bench.

Pari Pari Parkinson has worked his way back to a starting lock position and will partner Josh Dickson.

The Highlanders will be captained by experienced hooker Ash Dixon who starts ahead of Liam Coltman this week with both likely to see significant game time.

Teams:

Highlanders

15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Sam Gilbert, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Paripari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone

Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Teihorangi Walden, 23 Vilimoni Koroi

Chiefs

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Quinn Tupaea, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Kaleb Trask, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross

Substitutes: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ryan Coxon, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Dylan Nel, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Etene Nanai-Seturo

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