Jackson Hemopo will return to lock for the Highlanders clash on Friday night against the Reds.
Hemopo who was impressive in the first-round win against the Chiefs makes way for Shannon Frizell on the blindside. Dillon Hunt will replace James Lentjes at openside and Marino Mikaele Tu’u who can play all three loose forward positions is on the bench. Jack Whetton, a hard driving lock, will make his Super Rugby debut off the bench for the Highlanders.
In the backs, Aaron Smith, will start at halfback and after a good first up performance, Josh Ioane, retains the number 10 jersey with the experienced Marty Banks as back up. Teihorangi Walden will resume his midfield partnership with Rob Thompson and there will be an opportunity for a Waisake Naholo crowd chant as he takes his familiar place on the right wing.
Highlanders Head Coach, Aaron Mauger, is expecting a tough encounter against a fresh Reds following their first round bye, “the Reds will bring a lot of energy and physicality to the encounter, history shows it’s always a tough game for us. The team is excited to be at home in front of our own fans for the first time this season, no doubt the players will draw some energy from their support”.
Highlanders v Reds
Unavailable due to injury: Tevita Nabura – knee (season), Liam Squire (hip)