Centre Role For One Test All Black Josh Ioane In Season Opener

Centre Role For One Test All Black Josh Ioane In Season Opener
Highlanders Head Coach, Aaron Mauger, has selected six Highlander debutants in his team to play the Sharks in the season opener at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday.
One-test All Black Josh Ioane will be thrust into Super Rugby action from the midfield rather than first-five after being named to start at second-five for the Highlanders’ first match of the 2020 campaign.

Former Crusader Mitchell Hunt will be one of the player's making their Highlanders debut as he starts at first five with wings Jona Nareki and Tima Fainga’anuku also debuting. Looking to debut off the bench is the versatile former Blues player, Michael Collins, who is joined by loose forward, Teariki Ben-Nicholas and lock cover Jesse Parete.
Having made his debut in 2016 and becoming a backline mainstay since, Rob Thompson will play his 50th game for the Highlanders on Friday night. A strong running centre his experience and midfield combination with Josh Ioane should provide plenty of attacking firepower against the Sharks who started their season with a win in round one.
Coach Mauger said the team are looking forward to the occasion, “the squad has worked very hard during the preseason and the players are excited by the opportunity to play in front of our home supporters at our stadium.”
The team will be captained by Otago loose forward James Lentjes.
1. Ayden Johnstone                                            
2. Liam Coltman
3. Siate Tokolahi
4. Paripari Parkinson
5. Josh Dickson
6. Dillon Hunt
7. James Lentjes (C)
8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u
9. Aaron Smith
10. Mitch Hunt
11. Jona Nareki
12. Josh Ioane
13. Rob Thompson
14. Tima Fainga’anuku
15. Josh McKay
16. Ash Dixon
17. Daniel Lienert-Brown
18. Josh Iosefa-Scott
19. Jesse Parete
20. Shannon Frizell
21. Kayne Hammington
22. Michael Collins
23. Teariki Ben-Nicholas
Unavailable due to injury: Jeff Thwaites (foot), Tevita Nabura (back), Thomas Umaga-Jensen (shoulder), Teihorangi Walden (ribs), Ngane Punivai (knee)
Season ending injuries: Connor Garden-Bachop (back), Ricky Jackson (ankle)

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