Super Rugby Pacific: Week six team announcements

Official team lists and injury news for this week's round of Super Rugby Pacific.

Moana Pasifika v Highlanders

7:05pm Friday, March 31

Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

The Highlanders welcome back some heavy duty forward firepower for their showdown with Moana Pasifika this weekend.

Scratched late against the Force and missing the match against the Drua, All Blacks loosie Shannon Frizell rejoins the fray from the bench.

Meanwhile, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u returns from a long layoff with a rib injury to slot into the reserves.

In the backs, Thomas Umaga-Jensen and Connor Garden Bachop replace the injured Jake Te Hiwi and Martin Bogado. Fetuli Paea stays at centre and Sam Gilbert at fullback.

Coach Clark Dermody is wary of a potential backlash from struggling Moana Pasifika, who are yet to record a win this season.

"We played them in the pre-season and there wasn’t much in it," said Dermody. "They have significant threats in their backs and forwards, and it will be a difficult assignment Friday night against a team hungry for success and playing at home."

Highlanders: 1-Ethan de Groot, 2-Leni Apisai, 3-Jermaine Ainsley, 4-Pari Pari Parkinson, 5-Josh Dickson, 6-Sean Withy, 7-Billy Harmon (C), 8-Hugh Renton, 9-Aaron Smith, 10-Mitch Hunt, 11-Jonah Lowe, 12-Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 13-Fetuli Paea, 14-Connor Garden-Bachop, 15-Sam Gilbert

Reserves: 16-Andrew Makalio, 17-Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18-Saula Ma’u, 19-Max Hicks, 20-Shannon Frizell, 21-Folau Fakatava, 22-Cameron Millar, 23-Marino Mikaele Tu'u

Reds v Crusaders

9:35pm Friday, March 31

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Coach Scott Robertson has named three fresh faces in his starting XV to face the Queenslanders this weekend.

Dom Gardiner replaces Zach Gallagher at lock. Christian Lio-Willie is promoted from the bench to start at No.8, moving Sione Havili Talitui across to blindside flanker for Ethan Blackadder, who's nursing a calf injury.

Noah Hotham gets the nod ahead of Mitchell Drummond at halfback, backed up by Willi Heinz off the pine. Pepesana Patafilo retains his starting spot on the right wing in place of Sevu Reece, who's been ruled out for the rest of the season with injury.

Christian Lio-Willie in pre-season action for the Crusaders.
Christian Lio-Willie in pre-season action for the Crusaders. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

Seb Calder, Jamie Hannah and Corey Kellow are the new names among the reserves.

Crusaders: 1-Joe Moody, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Tamaiti Williams, 4-Scott Barrett, 5-Dom Gardiner, 6-Sione Havili Talitui, 7-Tom Christie, 8-Christian Lio-Willie, 9-Noah Hotham, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-Leicester Fainga'anuku, 12-Dallas McLeod, 13-Braydon Ennor, 14-Pepesana Patafilo, 15-Fergus Burke

Reserves: 16-Brodie McAlister, 17-George Bower, 18-Seb Calder, 19-Jamie Hannah, 20-Corey Kellow, 21-Willi Heinz, 22-Will Gualter, 23-Chay Fihaki


Chiefs v Blues 

7:05pm Saturday, April 1

FMG Stadium, Hamilton

Lock Tupou Vaa'i returns from injury to bolster the Chiefs second row, while No.8 Luke Jacobson forces Pita Gus Sowakula back to the bench against the Blues.

Damian McKenzie starts at first-five, with fullback Shaun Stevenson returning to the starting line-up, while Daniel Rona has his first start at centre.

"This is a game that the boys look forward to," said coach Clayton McMillan. "They are our closest neighbours and they are a team stacked with All Blacks.

"They understand how they want to play and they have the ability to impose that game on you, if you allow them. They present a significant challenge.

Daniel Rona in action for the Chiefs
Daniel Rona in action for the Chiefs. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

"The rivalry seems to bring the best out in both teams and I anticipate this will be a very physical contest."

Chiefs: 1-Ollie Norris, 2-Samisoni Taukei’aho, 3-John Ryan, 4-Brodie Retallick, 5-Tupou Vaa’i, 6- Samipeni Finau, 7-Sam Cane (CC), 8-Luke Jacobson, 9-Brad Weber (CC), 10-Damian McKenzie, 11-Etene Nanai-Seturo, 12-Rameka Poihipi, 13-Daniel Rona, 14-Emoni Narawa, 15-Shaun Stevenson

Reserves: 16-Tyrone Thompson, 17-Aidan Ross, 18-George Dyer, 19-Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20-Pita Gus Sowakula, 21-Cortez Ratima, 22-Bryn Gatland, 23-Liam Coombes-Fabling

Blues coach Leon MacDonald will have most of his All Blacks available for the local derby against the Chiefs, after sitting them against Western Force last week.

Lock Patrick Tuipulotu will return from injury off the bench, while Nepo Laulala, Dalton Papalii, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Caleb Clarke and Rieko Ioane all return from their mandated rest week.

"[Tuipulotu] brings an edge, an experienced player who can shift bodies and hit hard," said MacDonald."We’re very happy to have him back on the bench for this weekend’s match."

Winger Mark Telea will rest this encounter, while Akira Ioane and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck battle ongoing injuries.

After his role off the bench last week, Sam Darry will start in the second row, with Anton Segner taking the No.6 jersey and Harry Plummer retaining his grip on No.12.

"A few boys stood up last week and took their chance against the Force," said MacDonald. "We welcome a lot of our core group back to the fold for the Chiefs and know we have a hard task on our hands come Saturday night."

Blues: 1-Jordan Lay, 2-Ricky Riccitelli, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Cameron Suafoa, 5-Sam Darry, 6-Anton Segner, 7-Dalton Papalii (c), 8-Hoskins Sotutu, 9-Finlay Christie, 10-Beauden Barrett, 11-Caleb Clarke, 12-Harry Plummer, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-AJ Lam, 15-Stephen Perofeta

Reserves: 16-Kurt Eklund, 17-Ofa Tuungafasi, 18-James Lay, 19-Patrick Tuipulotu, 20-Tom Robinson, 21-Sam Nock, 22-Corey Evans, 23-Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens/Zarn Sullivan


Hurricanes v Force

3:35pm Sunday, April 2

Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North'

Dane Coles returns to captain the Hurricanes, amid a spate of All Blacks rest-enforced changes to face Western Force on Sunday.

Regular skipper Ardie Savea has been given the week off, after taking part in his side's last five weeks despite a one-game ban for a throat-slitting gesture. 

Brayden Iose starts at No.8 in Savea's place.

In the front row, All Blacks prop Tyrel Lomax returns after his rest week, as does Jordie Barrett - who travelled to Australia to mix with NRL side Melbourne Storm.

In the back three, 22-year-old Daniel Sinkinson makes his Super Rugby debut on the right wing, while 20-year-old fullback Harry Godfrey is named at fullback. 

On the bench, rookies Peter Lakai and Kini Naholo are both named among the reserves after impressing in limited opportunities so far this season.

Hurricanes: 1-Pouri Rakete-Stones, 2-Dane Coles (c), 3-Tyrel Lomax, 4-James Blackwell, 5-Dominic Bird, 6-Devan Flanders, 7-Du'Plessis Kirifi, 8-Brayden Iose, 9-Jamie Booth, 10-Brett Cameron, 11-Salesi Rayasi, 12-Jordie Barrett, 13-Bailyn Sullivan, 14-Daniel Sinkinson, 15-Harry Godfrey

Reserves: 16-Hame Faiva, 17-Tevita Mafileo, 18-Owen Franks, 19-TK Howden, 20-Peter Lakai, 21-Cameron Roigard, 22-Riley Higgins, 23-Kini Naholo

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