Aaron Smith returns to the Highlanders starting XV

Aaron Smith returns to the Highlanders starting XV

The Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy is at stake this Sunday in the round three of Super Rugby Aotearoa clash between the Blues and the Highlanders. Hunter coached both the Blues and the Highlanders, with the trophy contested annually currently being held by the Blues.

In the pack Ethan De Groot will get his first start of 2021 replacing the injured Daniel Lienert-Brown, Liam Coltman rotates with Ash Dixon, while Manaaki Selby-Rickit and Hugh Renton have worked their way from the bench to the starting team. Former Highlanders captain James Lentjes starts at openside with Billy Harmon and Marino Mikaele Tu’u moving to the bench after starting the opening two rounds.

In the backs Ngatungane Punivai moves to the right-wing allowing a start for Michael Collins against his former club and Connor Garden-Bachop will start at fullback. Aaron Smith returns to lead the side from halfback.

Blues v Highlanders - Eden Park, Sun 14 Mar, 3.35pm

1.   Ethan De Groot

2.   Liam Coltman

3.   Siate Tokolahi

4.   Josh Dickson

5.   Manaaki Selby-Rickit

6.   Shannon Frizell

7.   James Lentjes

8.   Hugh Renton

9.   Aaron Smith (cc)

10. Josh Ioane

11  Jona Nareki

12. Patelesio Tomkinson

13. Michael Collins

14. Ngatugnane Punivai

15. Connor Garden-Bachop



16. Ash Dixon (cc)

17. Josh Hohneck

18. Jeff Thwaites

19. Bryn Evans

20. Marino Mikaele Tu’u

21. Folau Fakatava

22. Mitch Hunt

23. Billy Harmon


Unavailable due to injury: Sam Gilbert (Knee), Daniel Lienert-Brown (Arm)

Season-ending injuries: Jermaine Ainsley (Ankle), Fetuli Paea (Ankle)

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