Super Rugby Aotearoa

Highlanders pick new front row to battle Crusaders

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

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger has named his team for Saturday's Super Rugby Aotearoa clash against the Crusaders in Dunedin.

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

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Mauger has opted for a new front row, while injuries also impacted his team announcement.

Up front, a strong Crusaders scrum will be met by a new starting front row of Daniel Lienert-Brown, Liam Coltman and Jeff Thwaites.

"We are fortunate to have some depth in our front row so we have the ability to make changes, this is a tough competition and as always the Crusaders will present a real challenge on Saturday night," forwards coach Clarke Dermody told the Highlanders' official website.

In the backline, impressive rookie winger Sam Gilbert, who sustained a season ending knee injury, has been replaced by Ngane Punivai and the experienced Michael Collins will play at fullback.

"Michael is a great communicator, reads a game well and will organise the back three," assistant coach Tony Brown said.

Elsewhere, lock Jack Whetton will get an opportunity off the bench and the mercurial Vilimoni Koroi will cover the back three.

The Highlanders will be co-captained by Aaron Smith and Ash Dixon.

Teams:

Highlanders

15 Michael Collins, 14 Ngane Punivai, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele Tu'u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Jeff Thwaites, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Vilimoni Koroi

Crusaders

15 David Havili, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Leicester Faingaanuku, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Ere Enari, 22 Fetuli Paea, 23 Sevu Reece

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