Highlanders ring the changes for southern derby in Melbourne

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A couple of key injuries and All Black rest periods have influenced some of the changes. Jona Nareki withdrew late from the first-round game against the Blues with a foot injury and Marino Mikaele-Tu’u who damaged his ribs in the opening moments of the same game are expected to be sidelined for several weeks. All Blacks Shannon Frizell and Ethan de Groot will have the week off under the All-Black load management programme and are likely available, along with Aaron Smith, for the round three match against the Chiefs.
Ayden Johnstone, Andrew Makalio and Will Tucker make up the new look tight-five and Sean Withy’s Blues performance earns him another start alongside youngster Nikora Broughton in the loose trio. Broughton captained the NZ Barbarians U20 side last year and is a promising mobile number eight who will be making his debut performance at Super Rugby level. Coach Dermody has the very experienced James Lentjes to bring off the bench and lock/six cove, Max Hicks, gets his first chance to take the field.
The inside pairing switches with Kemara Hauiti-Parapara and Freddie Burns starting ahead of Folau Fakatava and Mitch Hunt. The outsides stay the same with Connor Garden-Bachop getting his second start and Mosese Dawai coming onto the bench.

Highlanders v Crusaders – 8pm NZT (6pm AEST), Friday 3rd March, AAMI Stadium

1. Ayden Johnstone
2. Andrew Makalio
3. Jermaine Ainsley
4. Paripari Parkinson
5. Will Tucker
6. Billy Harmon (C)
7. Sean Withy
8. Nikora Broughton
9. Kemara Hauiti-Parapara
10. Freddie Burns
11. Connor Garden-Bachop
12. Thomas Umaga-Jensen
13. Josh Timu
14. Jonah Lowe
15. Sam Gilbert

16. Rhys Marshall
17. Daniel Lienert-Brown
18. Saula Mau
19. Max Hicks
20. James Lentjes
21. Folau Fakatava
22. Mitch Hunt
23. Mosese Dawai

Not Available due to injury: Fabian Holland (knee) , James Arscott (knee), Fetuli Paea (calf) Vili Koroi (knee) Marty Banks (groin) Jona Nareki (foot) Marino Mikaele Tu’u (ribs) Hugh Renton (foot) Scott Gregory (knee) Jeff Thwaites (back)