Highlanders name team for battle of the Mainland

Highlanders name team for battle of the Mainland

This weekend’s round 12 match up between the Highlanders and the Crusaders is a fitting fixture for a Culture round as it encapsulates the culture of rugby fandom in the South Island. 

A rivalry steeped in history, that goes back to the beginning of Super Rugby more than quarter of a century ago and is always a fan favourite on the calendar which hasn’t been played at Forsyth Barr Stadium in front of crowds since 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa (2022 was played in the bubble with no crowds and 2023 was played in Melbourne as part of the Super Round). This year’s game is proving even more popular with fans and the anticipated crowd will be the largest of the year with tickets selling faster than any other game this season. 

Another nostalgic element to this weekend’s game will also be the Heritage jerseys that both the Highlanders and the Crusaders will play in. The Highlanders’ Heritage jersey is inspired by the 1997-1999 jersey and arcs back to games played in front of the Terraces at Carisbrook featuring legends of the game such as Taine Randall, Josh Kronfeld and Anton Oliver. 

Highlanders Head Coach Clarke Dermody will be hoping the history of the fixture provides an additional element to this game, “We’re at the business end of the season and this game is important, not just because of the history tied to the rivalry, but also because every point counts towards the end of the season.”

The Highlanders will be without Captain, Billy Harmon, this weekend who is recovering from a cut to his hand received during the Highlanders win in Tonga last weekend, however, Ethan de Groot returns from All Black rest to take over the Captaincy and his starting spot in the front row. Hard running Nikora Broughton replaces Harmon at the back of the scrum while impressive 20-year-old Will Stodart will lace up his boots for the third time this year. 

Dermody, impressed by Cameron Millar, rewards him with another start at first five, “I was pleased with how Cam led the team last week, especially when Billy had to leave the field in Tonga, he stepped up and he’s been given the opportunity to that again for us this week.”

Argentinian international, Martín Bogado, comes onto the left wing to replace Connor Garden-Bachop who sustained a head knock in Tonga and is completing his HIA protocols while injury replacement outside back Finn Hurley has the chance to play his second game for the Highlanders from the bench on Saturday night. 

Highlanders v Crusaders – 7:05pm, Saturday 11th May, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

  1. Ethan de Groot (c)

  2. Henry Bell

  3. Jermaine Ainsley

  4. Mitch Dunshea

  5. Fabian Holland

  6. Oliver Haig

  7. Sean Withy 

  8. Nikora Broughton

  9. Folau Fakatava

  10. Cameron Millar

  11. Martín Bogado

  12. Jake Te Hiwi

  13. Tanielu Tele’a

  14. Timoci Tavatavanawai

  15. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens


16.  Jack Taylor

17.  Ayden Johnstone

18.  Saula Ma’u

19.  Will Tucker

20.  Will Stodart

21.  James Arscott

22.  Sam Gilbert

23.  Finn Hurley

Injured/unavailable: Jonah Lowe (knee), Hugh Renton (ankle), Rhys Patchell (pec), Jona Nareki (hamstring), Matt Whaanga (shoulder), Ricky Jackson (hamstring), Billy Harmon (hand), Connor Garden-Bachop (HIA), Josh Timu (ankle)

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