Moore finalising combinations

Date published: February 5 2008

Highlanders coach Glenn Moore is having one final go at experimentation with his Highlanders squad before the Super 14 campaign kicks off against the Reds next week.

Highlanders coach Glenn Moore is having one final go at experimentation with his Highlanders squad before the Super 14 campaign kicks off against the Reds next week.

Moore has been able to narrow a his squad down to just 24 players for the warm-up match against Blues this Friday, 22 of whom should to start the Super 14 campaign next week.

The Highlanders coach will try more combinations in both his backline and forward packs this week, with Paul Williams, who started at fullback for the internal trial shifting to the wing; making way for James Wilson.

The move effectively means that Brett Mather, who started on the wing last week, has been relegated to the Highlanders bench.

Niva Ta'auso will start alongside Johnny Leota at outside centre, while Ben Smith drops out of the fray altogether this week.

Ezra Taylor will once again take charge at the base of the scrum, in the absence of number eight Steven Setephano.

There is, however some uncertainty on the openside flank, with Adam Thompson and Hayden Triggs being bracketed for the position.

The combinations in the Highlanders tight five have changed considerably for this particular match with Tom Donnelly and Isaac Ross starting together at lock while Clint Newland, Jason Macdonald and Jamie Mackintosh make up a slightly new look front row.

Macdonald will captain the Highlanders in the Super 14 warm-up match against the Blues.

Macdonald, who will start his third season with the Duneden-based team, is likely to shoulder a lot more responsibility at hooker in the absence of All Black veteran Anton Oliver.

Highlanders: 15 James Wilson, 14 Paul Williams, 13 Niva Ta'auso, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Daniel Bowden, 9 Jimmy Cowan (vc), 8 Ezra Taylor, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson/Hayden Triggs, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Isaac Ross, 3 Clint Newland, 2 Jason Macdonald (c), 1 Jamie Mackintosh
Replacements (from): 16 David Hall, 17 Keith Cameron, 18 Hayden Triggs/Adam Thomson, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Lucky Mulipola, 23 Brett Mather, 24 Chris King

Date: Friday, 8 February
Venue: Carisbrook, Duneden
Kick-off: 17.00 (04.00 GMT)
Referee: Lyndon Bray
Touch judges: Vinny Munro, local