Official team lists and injury news for this week's round of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Chiefs v Highlanders
7:05pm, Friday, March 5
FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Hawke's Bay halfback Folau Fakatava has leapfrogged All Blacks Aaron Smith for the Highlanders No.9 jersey in their encounter with the Chiefs at Hamilton.
Fakatava was a star of the Magpies' 2020 Mitre 10 Cup campaign, helping them to the championship title and promotion into the premiership. He came off the Highlanders bench to replace Smith in their loss to the Crusaders last week.
In the only other change to the starting XV, Josh Ioane takes the No.10 jersey off Mitch Hunt, who slides back to fullback, with Solomon Alaimalo relegated to the bench.
The forward pack remains unchanged, although lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit replaces Bryn Evans among the reserves.
Highlanders: 1-Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2-Ash Dixon (cc), 3-Siate Tokolahi, 4- Josh Dickson, 5-Jack Regan, 6-Shannon Frizell, 7-Billy Harmon, 8-Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 9-Folau Fakatava, 10-Josh Ioane, 11-Jona Nareki, 12-Patelesio Tomkinson, 13-Ngatungane Punivai, 14-Connor Garden-Bachop, 15-Mitch Hunt
Reserves: 16-Liam Coltman,17-Josh Hohneck, 18-Jeff Thwaites, 19-Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20-Liam Squire, 21-Aaron Smith (cc), 22-Solomon Alaimalo, 23-Hugh Renton
The Chiefs have named a strong side for their opening match of the campaign.
Despite injuries to Atu Moli, Lachlan Boshier, Pita Gus Sowakula, Kaleb Trask, Quinn Tupaea and Chase Tiatia, seven All Blacks have been selected in the 23.
New recruit Bryn Gatland starts at first-five, while 2020 breakout All Black Tupou Vaa'i plays his first Super Rugby game, since earning a international call-up.
Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie all start, with All Black prop Angus Ta'avao on the bench.
Look out for promising winger Etene Nanai-Seturo and hard-nosed centre Sean Wainui to shine, as they look to push for higher honours in 2021.
Chiefs: 1-Reuben O’Neill, 2-Samisoni Taukei’aho, 3-Sione Mafileo, 4-Tupou Vaa’i, 5-Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 6-Samipeni Finau, 7-Sam Cane (cc), 8-Luke Jacobson, 9-Brad Weber (cc), 10-Bryn Gatland, 11-Etene Nanai-Seturo, 12-Anton Lienert-Brown, 13-Sean Wainui, 14-Jonah Lowe, 15-Damian McKenzie
Reserves: 16-Bradley Slater, 17-Ollie Norris, 18-Angus Ta’avao, 19-Mitchell Brown, 20-Mitchell Karpik, 21-Xavier Roe, 22-Alex Nankivell, 23-Shaun Stevenson
Crusaders v Hurricanes
4:35pm, Sunday, March 7
Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
Former All Black David Havili returns to the Crusaders starting XV, with last season's top tryscorer Will Jordan relegated to the bench against the Hurricanes.
Mitch Drummond replaces Bryn Hall at halfback in the only other change to the line-up that started against the Highlanders last week - both halves are nearing their 100th appearaces for the southern side.
Crusaders: 1-Joe Moody, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Michael Alaalatoa, 4-Scott Barrett (c), 5-Samuel Whitelock, 6-Ethan Blackadder, 7-Tom Christie, 8-Cullen Grace, 9-Mitchell Drummond, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-Leicester Fainga'anuku, 12-Dallas McLeod, 13-Jack Goodhue, 14-Sevu Reece, 15-David Havili
Reserves: 16-Brodie McAlister, 17-George Bower, 18-Fletcher Newell, 19-Quinten Strange, 20-Sione Havili Talitui, 21-Bryn Hall, 22-Fergus Burke, 23-Will Jordan
Coach Jason Holland has made four changes - three in the forwards - to his starting line-up against the Crusaders.
All Blacks centre Peter Umaga-Jensen replaces Billy Proctor in the backline, while lock Isaia Walker-Leawere, and loose forwards Reed Prinsep and Du'Plessis Kirifi join the pack.
Hurricanes: 1-Fraser Armstrong, 2-Asafo Aumua, 3-Tyrel Lomax, 4-James Blackwell, 5-Isaia Walker-Leawere,6-Reed Prinsep, 7-Du'Plessis Kirifi, 8-Ardie Savea (C), 9-Jonathan Taumateine, 10-Jackson Garden-Bachop, 11-Julian Savea, 12-Ngani Laumape, 13-Peter Umaga-Jensen, 14-Wes Goosen, 15-Jordie Barrett
Reserves: 16-Ricky Riccatelli, 17-Xavier Numia, 18-Tevita Mafileo, 19-Liam Mitchell, 20-Devan Flanders, 21-Luke Campbell, 22-Billy Proctor, 23-Salesi Rayasi
More to come
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