Official NZ team lists and injury news for this week's round of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
Hurricanes v Force
7:05pm Friday, May 28
McLean Park, Napier
The Hurricanes will welcome back linchpin forward Ardie Savea for their clash with Western Force.
The All Blacks star has been named to the bench for the McLean Park fixture, where he should make his first appearance, since injuring his knee against the Crusaders in round seven of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Savea's return comes ahead of schedule, with recovery initially expected to take up to two months.
Elsewhere in the forwards, hooker Dane Coles will take a week off for rest, opening the door for Asafo Aumua to start and flanker Reed Prinsep to take over the captaincy.
Isaia Walker-Leawere returns to start at lock, while Gareth Evans moves from the bench to don the No.8 jersey.
In the backs, Salesi Rayasi returns to the left wing, Peter Umaga-Jensen partners Ngani Laumape in the centres, and Luke Campbell reclaims starting halfback duties.
Wes Goosen switches to the right wing, as Julian Savea drops out of the gameday squad.
"There will obviously be some focus on Ardie’s return, which is great for us, but the squad as a whole are really looking forward to trying to improve week by week, which is our major focus," says coach Jason Holland.
The Hurricanes will try to back up their emphatic 35-13 win over the Rebels, while the Force will try to become the first Australian team to secure a win over a Kiwi side.
Hurricanes: 1-Xavier Numia, 2-Asafo Aumua, 3-Tyrel Lomax, 4-Isaia Walker-Leawere, 5-Scott Scrafton, 6-Reed Prinsep, 7-Du’Plessis Kirifi, 8-Gareth Evans, 9-Luke Campbell, 10-Orbyn Leger, 11-Salesi Rayasi, 12-Ngani Laumape, 13-Peter Umaga-Jensen, 14-Wes Goosen, 15-Jordie Barrett.
Reserves: 16-Ricky Riccitelli, 17- Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18-Alex Fidow, 19-James Blackwell, 20-Ardie Savea, 21-Cam Roigard, 22-Billy Proctor, 23-Vince Aso
Waratahs v Crusaders
5:05pm Saturday, May 29 (NZ time)
Wollongong Showground, Wollongong
Captain Scott Barrett has returned to the Crusaders' side for their Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash with the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.
Barrett will get his first taste of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman in Wollongong, having not played since the Super Rugby Aotearoa final against the Chiefs earlier this month due to illness.
Elsewhere, coach Scott Robertson has rotated his side against the Waratahs - who finished bottom of Super Rugby AU.
Star utility David Havili has been rested, left out of the side entirely, replaced by Dallas McLeod in the No.12 jersey.
Sam Whitelock also shifts to the bench to accommodate Barrett's return, with Quinten Strange partnering the captain in the second row.
Hooker Nathan Vella has also been named for his debut at the age of 31, and will start on the bench in the No.16 jersey.
Crusaders: 1-George Bower, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Michael Alaalatoa, 4-Quinten Strange, 5-Scott Barrett (c), 6-Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7-Sione Havili, 8-Cullen Grace, 9-Mitchell Drummond, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-Leicester Fainga'anuku, 12-Dallas McLeod, 13-Braydon Ennor, 14-Sevu Reece, 15-Will Jordan.
Reserves: 16-Nathan Vella, 17-Tamati Williams, 18-Oliver Jager, 19-Sam Whitelock, 20-Mitchell Dunshea, 21-Bryn Hall, 22-Fergus Burke, 23-Manasa Mataele.
Blues v Brumbies
7:15pm Saturday, May 29
Eden Park, Auckland
The Blues have welcomed All Blacks Hoskins Sotutu and Dalton Papalii back into their starting side against the Brumbies at Eden Park.
Papalii, 23, starts for the first time in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, since missing the end of the Aotearoa competition with a knee injury.
Sotutu, 22, returns from a toe injury, after sitting out of last week's 48-21 victory over the Waratahs, with the pair starting alongside captain Tom Robinson in the loose forward trio.
Elsewhere, club captain Patrick Tuipulotu will again start from the bench, having also made his playing return in the win over the Waratahs.
Such is the Blues' strength that three more All Blacks - Akira Ioane, Nepo Laulala and Alex Hodgman - will also start on the bench,
But fellow All Black Ofa Tu'ungafasi will miss the Brumbies match, nursing a toe injury picked up against the Waratahs.
Blues: 1-Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2-Kurt Eklund, 3-Marcel Renata, 4-Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5-Josh Goodhue, 6-Tom Robinson (c), 7-Dalton Papalii, 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 9-Finlay Christie, 10-Otere Black, 11-AJ Lam, 12-TJ Faiane, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-Bryce Heem, 15-Zarn Sullivan.
Reserves: 16-Soane Vikena, 17-Alex Hodgman, 18-Nepo Laulala, 19-Patrick Tuipulotu, 20-Akira Ioane, 21-Jonathan Ruru, 22-Harry Plummer, 23-Mark Telea.
Reds v Chiefs
9:45pm Saturday, May 29 (NZ time)
Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
The Chiefs have rung the changes to their starting side to face the Reds in Townsville on Saturday.
In the forward pack, coach Clayton McMillan has made four changes to the starting eight, as Bradley Slater and Angus Ta'avao come into the front row.
Elsewhere, lock Mitchell Brown makes his return from injury alongside Tupo Vaa'i, while Pita Gus Sowakula is given the No.6 jersey.
Sowakula's return to the starting lineup means veteran Liam Messam returns to the bench for his 183rd Super Rugby match.
In the backs, Chase Tiatia moves to the left wing to cover the loss of Jonah Lowe, out with a hamstring injury. Kaleb Trask moves to fullback with Damian McKenzie keeping the No.10 jersey for another week.
Quinn Tupaea returns from injury, and makes the bench the same week he re-signed with the Chiefs.
Chiefs: 1-Aidan Ross, 2-Bradley Slater, 3-Angus Ta'avao, 4-Mitchell Brown, 5-Tupou Vaa'i, 6-Pita Gus Sowakula, 7-Lachlan Boshier, 8-Luke Jacobson, 9-Brad Weber (c), 10-Damian McKenzie, 11-Chase Tiatia, 12-Alex Nankivell, 13-Anton Lienert-Brown, 14-Bailyn Sullivan, 15-Kaleb Trask.
Reserves: 16-Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17-Reuben O'Neill, 18-Sione Mafileo, 19-Zane Kapeli, 20-Liam Messam, 21-Xavier Roe, 22-Quinn Tupaea, 23-Shaun Stevenson.
Highlanders v Rebels
5pm Sunday, May 30 (NZ time)
Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
The Highlanders have refurbished their forward pack for their encounter with the Melbourne Rebels.
Prop Ethan De Groot, lock Josh Dickson, and flanker James Lentjes have all been named in the run-on side, while Jeff Thwaites and Manaaki Selby-Rickit come on to the bench.
Talismanic hooker Ash Dixon also moves to the bench, making way for Liam Coltman to make a rare start.
Josh Ioane shifts from the reserves to start at fullback in the only change to the backline which took the field in the 25-15 win over the Force in Perth last weekend.
The match was originally scheduled to be played in Queenstown, until Victoria's recent COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown forced the Highlanders to meet their opponents in Sydney.
Highlanders: 1-Ethan De Groot, 2-Liam Coltman, 3-Siate Tokolahi, 4-Pari Pari Parkinson, 5-Josh Dickson, 6-Shannon Frizell, 7-JJames Lentjes, 8-Hugh Renton, 9-Aaron Smith (cc), 10-Mitch Hunt, 11-Jona Nareki, 12-Scott Gregory, 13-Michael Collins, 14-Patelesio Tomkinson, 15-Josh Ioane
Reserves: 16-Ash Dixon (cc), 17-Ayden Johnstone, 18-Jeff Thwaites, 19-Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20-Kazuki Himeno, 21-Kayne Hammington, 22-Ngatungane Punivai, 23-Billy Harmon
Join us for live updates of every game during round three of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman