Jona Nareki to start for Highlanders

Date published: August 7 2020

Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger has kept changes to a minimum for Sunday’s Super Rugby Aotearoa clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch.

A settled looking team has been named for the fixture, with only Jona Nareki coming in for Scott Gregory in the starting team.

Nareki, a regular starter in the early part of the season, has made a real impact off the bench in the last two outings and been rewarded with the number 11 jersey.

The rest of the starting team will get another opportunity to test themselves in what has been the toughest Super Rugby competition in recent years.

On the bench there is a six/two split with Daniel Lienert-Brown returning along with Teariki Ben-Nicholas and Ngatungane Punivai.

Mauger is looking for an improved performance from his team.

“I didn’t feel we did ourselves justice last week as we allowed the Blues to dominate us early and rack up some points,” he said. “We were better in the back half, but it was too late.

“Playing the Crusaders, we know we will have to be tuned in from the very start but it’s another great opportunity for our guys to prove themselves against the competition leaders.”

Highlanders: 15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith (cc), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Jeff Thwaites, 2 Ash Dixon (cc), 1 Ayden Johnstone
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Ngatungane Punivai, 23. Teariki Ben-Nicholas

Date: Sunday, August 9
Venue: Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 15:35 (04:35 BST, 03:35 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Ben O’Keeffe