Oliver, Hayman up for Cheetahs challenge

Highlanders coach Greg Cooper made seven changes, including giving reconditioned All Blacks Anton Oliver and Carl Hayman their first Super 14 starts of the season, in the team that will face the Cheetahs on Friday.

Both Oliver and Hayman returned to the Highlanders fold recently after missing the first seven weeks of Super 14 action while on World Cup reconditioning duty with the All Blacks.

Friday’s game, to be played at Rugby Park in Invercargill, will see Oliver start at hooker after he came on as a second half replacement in the 22-13 loss to the Bulls last week. He replaces Jason MacDonald in the number two jersey.

Hayman, who withdrew from the encounter with the Bulls at the 11th hour last week, will play his first Super 14 game of the season and takes over at tightheads prop from Chris King.

In another change to the tight five Kane Thompson replaces Hoani MacDonald at lock.

The loose forwards have also been reshuffled.

Josh Blackie, who retains the captaincy despite Oliver’s presence, moves from openside flank to the blindside. Alando Soakai comes in at openside and Craig Newby moves from blindside to number eight. Ezra Taylor, who played number eight against the Bulls, is dropped from the matchday 22 after he was yellow carded last week for a couple of cheat shots on the Bulls.

The backline shows just one change, with Callum Bruce coming in at inside centre in the place of Aaron Bancroft.

MacDonald, King, MacDonald and Bancroft all find themselves on the replacement bench.

Hale T-Pole will provide loose forward cover on the bench.

Charlie Hore, who is back from injury, replaces James Wilson on the bench.

Highlanders: 15 Glen Horton, 14 Lucky Mulipola, 13 Matthew Saunders, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Viliame Waqaseduadua, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Craig Newby, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Josh Blackie (c), 5 James Ryan, 4 Kane Thompson, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Anton Oliver, 1 Clarke Dermody.
Replacements: 16 Jason MacDonald, 17 Chris King, 18 Hoani MacDonald, 19 Hale T-Pole, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Charlie Hore, 22 Aaron Bancroft.

Date: Friday, 30 March
Venue: Rugby Park, Invercargill
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)
Touch judges: Geoff Acton (Australia), Brent Murray (New Zealand)
Television match official: Gary Wise (New Zealand)
Assessor: Alan Riley (New Zealand), Keith Hendricks (South Africa)


365 Digital

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