Wallabies prop James Slipper has been named to start in his 150th Super Rugby match as the smarting Brumbies take on the Drua in Brisbane.
Read on for all the latest round eight team news.
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HIGHLANDERS vs MOANA PASIFIKA in Dunedin, Friday 5.05pm AEST
Highlanders coach Tony Brown has reshuffled his forward pack as he searches for a first win of the season against Moana Pasifika.
Prop Jermaine Ainsley, lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit and flanker James Lentjes all come into the starting side captained by halfback Aaron Smith.
“They have had a great debut season so far in Super Rugby Pacific, they are a physical team that never gives up,” Brown said of Moana Pasifika.
“We expect, as we do every week, that we will have to match up for the full 80 minutes to get the result we need.”
Meanwhile, Moana Pasifika have welcomed back centres Levi Aumua and Danny Toala but will be without injured No.8 Henry Time-Stowers.
HIGHLANDERS (15-1): Connor Garden-Bachop, Sam Gilbert, Fetuli Paea, Scott Gregory, Mosese Dawai, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith (c), Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, James Lentjes, Shannon Frizell, Josh Dickson, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Jermaine Ainsley, Andrew Makalio, Ethan De Groot
Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Ayden Johnstone, Saula Ma’u, Max Hicks, Gareth Evans, Folau Fakatava, Vilimoni Koroi, Denny Solomona
MOANA PASIFIKA (15-1): William Havili, Tima Fainga’anuku, Levi Aumua, Danny Toala, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Christian Leali’ifano, Ereatara Enari, Penitoa Finau, Alamanda Motuga, Solomone Funaki, Samuel Slade, Veikoso Poloniati, Sekope Kepu (c), Luteru Tolai, Ezekiel Lindenmuth
Reserves: Samiuela Moli, Abraham Pole, Chris Apoua, Mahonri Ngakuru, Sione Tu’ipulotu, Jonathan Taumateine, Lincoln McClutchie, Fine Inisi
READ MORE: Wallabies coach drops pivotal selection hint
FORCE vs REBELS in Perth, Friday 7.45pm AEST
Force coach Tim Sampson has made five changes to his starting line-up to play the Rebels and handed centre Kyle Godwin the captain’s armband.
Sampson has opted to use regular skipper Feleti Kaitu’u and lock Izack Rodda from the bench after they spent three days in camp with the Wallabies on the Gold Coast.
Andrew Ready starts at hooker with Fergus Lee-Warner moving to lock and Tim Anstee slotting in as blindside flanker.
Promising five-eighth Reesjan Pasitoa returns to start in place of Jake McIntyre while winger Byron Ralston comes in for Toni Pulu who is still going through HIA protocols after a head knock against the Brumbies.
Meanwhile, Rebels coach Kevin Foote has made just one change to his starting side with lock Josh Canham recovered from concussion and coming in for Josh Hill.
“Josh has really impressed us this season, so we’re happy to welcome him back and confident he’ll do his job and play well on Friday night,” Foote said.
“We’ve done a lot of good work leading up to this week, with two strong performances against the Waratahs and the Drua, so everyone is really positive and focused on continuing this hard work, staying connected and building on this momentum.”
FORCE (15-1): Jake Strachan, Byron Ralston, Kyle Godwin (c), Bayley Kuenzle, Manasa Mataele, Reesjan Pasitoa, Ian Prior, Brynard Stander, Kane Koteka, Tim Anstee, Fergus Lee-Warner, Jeremy Thrush, Santiago Medrano, Andrew Ready, Harrison Lloyd
Reserves: Feleti Kaitu’u, Bo Abra, Greg Holmes, Izack Rodda, Ollie Callan, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Jake McIntyre, Brad Lacey
REBELS (15-1): Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Stacey Ili, Raymond Nu’u, Glen Vaihu, Matt To’omua, James Tuttle, Michael Wells (c), Richard Hardwick, Brad Wilkin, Josh Canham, Matt Philip, Cabous Eloff, Jordan Uelese, Matt Gibbon
Reserves: James Hanson, Cameron Orr, Rhys van Nek, Josh Hill, Sam Wallis, Joe Powell, Carter Gordon, George Worth
Sean Maloney and Andrew Mehrtens are joined by Harry Wilson in a special episode from inside the Wallabies camp. They talk Super Rugby Pacific, tennis with Casey Dellacqua and the uncut scenes from his mic’d up game against the Waratahs
HURRICANES vs CRUSADERS in Wellington, Saturday 2.35pm AEST
Te Kamaka Howden will make a surprise Hurricanes debut after being named at blindside flanker to play the Crusaders.
“TK is a good Feilding boy who has done his time this year and has worked hard behind the scenes,” Hurricanes coach Jason Holland said.
“We think it’s a good mix to throw his young talent in the back row with Dup’s (Du’Plessis Kirifi) and Ardie (Savea). It will be a formidable backrow, and a fantastic opportunity for him to debut against the Crusaders. We are confident he can do the job.”
Josh Moorby is at fullback with Jordie Barrett retained at inside centre.
Meanwhile, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has bolstered his starting side with the inclusion of Pablo Matera and Braydon Ennor to play the Hurricanes.
Pumas flanker Matera replaces Tom Christie while Ennor slots in for Leicester Fainga’anuku at outside centre.
Hooker Ricky Jackson is set to make his Crusaders debut off the bench with Brodie McAlister (calf) and Shilo Klein (suspension) unavailable.
HURRICANES (15-1): Josh Moorby, Julian Savea, Billy Proctor, Jordie Barrett, Wes Goosen, Jackson Garden-Bachop, TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea (c), Du’Plessis Kirifi, Te Kamaka Howden, Scott Scrafton, James Blackwell, Tyrel Lomax, Asafo Aumua, Pouri Rakete-Stones
Reserves: James O’Reilly, Alex Fidow, Tevita Mafileo, Caleb Delany, Devan Flanders, Jamie Booth, Bailyn Sullivan, Ruben Love
CRUSADERS (15-1): Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, David Havili, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Drummond, Cullen Grace, Ethan Blackadder, Pablo Matera, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett (c), Fletcher Newell, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody
Reserves: Ricky Jackson, George Bower, Tamaiti Williams, Zach Gallagher, Tom Christie, Bryn Hall, Fergus Burke, Leicester Fainga’anuku
CHIEFS vs BLUES in Hamilton, Saturday 5.05pm AEST
Bryn Gatland will start at five-eighth for the Chiefs after Josh Ioane’s rib injury did not heal in time for the ‘Battle of the Bombays’ against the Blues.
Kaleb Trask is back at fullback after recovering from a sprained ankle which sees Emoni Narawa move to the right wing and Alex Nankivell slot in at inside centre ahead of All Black Quinn Tupaea.
CHIEFS (15-1): Kaleb Trask, Emoni Narawa, Anton Lienert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Brad Weber (co-c), Pita Gus Sowakula, Sam Cane (co-c), Kaylum Boshier, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Josh Lord, Angus Ta’avao, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross
Reserves: Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, George Dyer, Samipeni Finau, Luke Jacobson, Cortez Ratima, Quinn Tupaea, Chase Tiatia
Clark powers for try on debut
DRUA vs BRUMBIES in Brisbane, Saturday 7.45pm AEST
Olympic gold medalist Meli Derenalagi will captain the Drua from No.8 following Nemani Nagusa’s four-week suspension for a dangerous tackle.
Locks Viliame Rarasea and Chris Minimbi will make their first starts of the season while Jone Tiko and Raikabula Momoedonu are set to make their Super Rugby debuts from the bench.
“We are looking for a more disciplined game, we are preparing ourselves for a team looking to step up after their loss last week,” Drua coach Mick Byrne said.
“We feel the same and are looking forward to a physical encounter up front.”
Meanwhile, Wallabies winger Tom Wright will start at fullback for the Brumbies in the absence of Tom Banks and Jesse Mogg.
That allows last week’s try-scorer Cam Clark to make his first start on the right wing in what will be prop James Slipper’s 150th Super Rugby match.
It will also be hooker Billy Pollard and flanker Ed Kennedy’s first Brumbies starts.
“It’s an exciting week for us for a number of reasons with guys earning their first start for the club and of course, to celebrate Slips’ 150th,” Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.
“His contribution to this club speaks for itself and we know he’ll go out and do a job for his team as always on Saturday night.
“We were disappointed with our accuracy last week and we know we will have to be much better against the Drua.”
DRUA (15-1): Kitione Ratu, Selestino Ravutaumada, Apisalome Vota, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, Vinaya Habosi, Teti Tela, Frank Lomani, Meli Derenalagi (c), Vilive Miramira, Joseva Tamani, Chris Minimbi, Viliame Rarasea, Samuela Tawake, Mesulame Dolokoto, Haereiti Hetet
Reserves: Tevita Ikanivere, Timoci Sauvoli, Jone Tiko, Isoa Nasilasila, Raikabula Momoedonu, Rusiate Nasove, Simione Kuruvoli, Napolioni Bolaca
BRUMBIES (15-1): Tom Wright, Cam Clark, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Andy Muirhead, Rod Iona, Nic White (c), Rob Valetini, Luke Reimer, Ed Kennedy, Tom Hooper, Darcy Swain, Sefo Kautai, Billy Pollard, James Slipper
Reserves: Connal McInerney, Scott Sio, Tom Ross, Nick Frost, Rory Scott, Ryan Lonergan, Hudson Creighton, Ollie Sapsford
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