Highlanders reshuffle in search for winning combination

Highlanders reshuffle in search for winning combination

For the second leg of their Australian tour, Head Coach Clarke Dermody has made several changes to the team that went down to the Rebels in Melbourne. No doubt keen return with some points from the two-match tour, he has freshened his line-up to take on the Brisbane Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.

Tanielu Tele’a returns from suspension and Dermody will be hoping he provides some all- important go forward to a backline that was searching for penetration last week. His power running has been a feature of his early season form and he will be eager to regain his spot after the enforced break. Tele’a will be served inside by Cameron Millar who earns his second start of the season and will be looking to build on the composed performance his young teammate, Ajay Faleafaga, turned in against the Rebels. Millar has had precious little game time over the last twelve months and will be keen to grasp this rare opportunity to start at Super Rugby level.

The changes in the backs continue at halfback; Otago halfback James Arscott has displayed impressive form off the bench with crisp passing and sharp running resulting in a starting spot this week allowing Folau Fakatava to impact the game from the bench. 

The elusive Connor Garden-Bachop will start at fullback moving the well performed Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens to the reserves. Like Fakatava, he will have an opportunity to make a difference later in the match.

In the forwards All Black loosehead prop, Ethan de Groot, returns to the starting line-up and Ricky Jackson continues his rotation with Henry Bell after an impressive effort off the bench last week. 

Hugo Plummer will start at lock after making his debut with Will Stodart last week and Oliver Haig will move to the flank in a reshuffled back row that involves Sean Withy moving to openside and Captain Billy Harmon to number eight. Harmon was impressive for Canterbury during the NPC at eight and his mobility and ability to ball carry will be a bonus for the Highlanders.

The Highlanders play the Brisbane Reds on Friday before returning home to take on the Western Force in Dunedin on Saturday 27th April for Super Rugby’s inaugural ANZAC Round. 

Highlanders v Reds – 7:35pm AEST (9:35pm NZT), Friday 19th April, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane 

  1. Ethan de Groot

  2. Ricky Jackson

  3. Saula Ma’u

  4. Hugo Plummer

  5. Pari Pari Parkinson

  6. Oliver Haig

  7. Sean Withy 

  8. Billy Harmon (C)

  9. James Arscott

  10. Cameron Millar

  11. Jona Nareki

  12. Sam Gilbert (VC)

  13. Tanielu Tele’a

  14. Timoci Tavatavanawai

  15. Connor Garden-Bachop


16.  Henry Bell

17.  Daniel Lienert-Brown

18.  Rohan Wingham

19.  Will Stodart

20.  Nikora Broughton

21.  Folau Fakatava

22.  Ajay Faleafaga

23.  Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

Injured/unavailable: Fabian Holland (HIA protocols), Tom Sanders (HIA protocols), Hugh Renton (ankle), Jermaine Ainsley (back), Nathan Hastie (shoulder), Jonah Lowe (knee) Josh Timu (HIA protocols) 

Latest News