They will be playing the Blues on 4:35pm on Friday afternoon at home at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
After a COVID forced week off the Highlanders have reassembled and are preparing to take on the Blues for the second time this season. The tough loss to the Blues in Auckland in round four will still be fresh in the team’s mind.
Head Coach, Tony Brown said, “it was disappointing to lose to the Blues two weeks ago and we’ve got an opportunity to have another go at them. We’re just looking for an improved performance that puts them under pressure for longer and enables us to create opportunities, especially into the second half. We’re really looking for a full 80 minute performance.”
Co-vice-Captain James Lentjes returns to starting team and Daniel Lienert-Brown will start at loosehead prop. The remainder of the forward pack remains unchanged from the previous game against the Blues. In the backline, Scott Gregory replaces Thomas Umaga-Jensen who is recovering from a groin injury at second-five and Sam Gilbert returns to fullback.
Fabian Holland is set to make is debut for the Highlanders off the bench this weekend. The Dutch national has been in New Zealand since he was 16 and after playing for the Highlander’s and New Zealand U20 teams last year he is looking forward to getting his Super Rugby cap first cap as a Highlander.
For Holland, “I grew up watching these guys and now I could be playing with them on Saturday. If the opportunity comes to take the field I’m going to give it all I’ve got – it’s a dream come true.”
Brown commented, “it’s a great opportunity for Fabian, he’s been outstanding in our training environment this year and while he’s a young, he’s a really exciting player, and I’m sure he will feed off the energy from the team and crowd at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.”
Following yesterday’s Government announcement, Forsyth Barr Stadium will open the doors for unrestricted crowds in the stands in a move that has both the fans and the team excited. Tickets are now available from www.ticketek.co.nz
Highlanders v Blues – 4:35pm, Saturday 26th March, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
1: Daniel Lienert-Brown
2: Liam Coltman
3: Jermaine Ainsley
4: Manaaki Selby-Rickit
5: Josh Dickson
6: Shannon Frizell
7: James Lentjes (Co-Vice Captain)
8: Marino Mikaele-Tu’u
9: Aaron Smith (Captain)
10: Mitch Hunt (Co-Vice Captain)
11: Mosese Dawai
12: Scott Gregory
13: Fetuli Paea
14: Ngatungane Punivai
15: Sam Gilbert
Reserves: Andrew Makalio, Ayden Johnstone, Josh Hohneck, Fabian Holland* (debut), Gareth Evans, Folau Fakatava, Vilimoni Koroi, Hugh Renton