Folau Fakatava named to start for Highlanders clash with Hurricanes

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The biggest change comes at halfback with Folau Fakatava pulling on the number 9 jersey and Aaron Smith rotating onto the bench. Smith’s move to the bench provides another opportunity for Fakatava having only had a handful of starts in his time with the Highlanders. Newcomer, Liam Coombes-Fabling, debuts on the left wing after joining the team three weeks ago in Queenstown as an injury replacement player.


Head Coach, Tony Brown, said, “this is a good opportunity for Fakatava while we manage Nuggie’s load and we’re looking forward to seeing how he goes. We know we’re going to benefit from Nug’s leadership, speed, and energy when he comes on.


“Liam has earned his opportunity with three good weeks of training; he has a high work rate and provides x-factor on the edge.”


A settled forward pack sees only one change within the starting team with Bryn Evans coming into the left lock position and Manaaki Selby-Rickit moving to the bench. Both Ethan de Groot and James Lentjes have been cleared to play after a hard-fought game against the Crusaders in round two.



Powerful young prop, Saula Ma’u, has been named on the bench. Ma’u has had a frustrating couple of years with injury and will be looking forward to getting his opportunity when it comes. 


Hurricanes v Highlanders – 7.05pm Saturday 5th March, Sky Stadium, Wellington


1. Ethan de Groot
2. Liam Coltman
3. Jermaine Ainsley
4. Bryn Evans
5. Josh Dickson
6. Shannon Frizell
7. James Lentjes (Co-Captain)
8. Gareth Evans
9. Folau Fakatava
10. Mitch Hunt (Co-Captain)
11. Liam Coombes-Fabling*
12. Thomas Umaga-Jensen
13. Fetuli Paea
14. Sam Gilbert
15. Connor Garden-Bachop

16. Rhys Marshall
17. Daniel Lienert-Brown
18. Saula Ma’u*
19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit
20. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u
21. Aaron Smith
22. Marty Banks
23. Scott Gregory



Injured: Andrew Makalio (leg), Josh Timu (knee)



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