Highlanders pick co-captains for Bulls clash
Scrumhalf Aaron Smith and reserve hooker Ash Dixon will co-captain the Highlanders against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
Regular captain James Lentjes has been sidelined for the season following a nasty injury to his ankle that occurred during last week's match against the Rebels.
Smith and Dixon make the step up from co-vice captains and will provide plenty of experience for the younger members of the team.
Experience returns to the starting XV in the form of All Black hooker Liam Coltman and fellow All Black Shannon Frizell who is back from his rest week.
Young Southland lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit comes into the second row for Jack Whetton, who moves to the bench, and Dillon Hunt replaces the injured Lentjes.
In the only change to the backline, Ngane Punivai will make his debut for the Highlanders. The hard-running centre has worked his way back from a knee injury to take the place of Rob Thompson in an otherwise settled back combination including flyhalf Mitch Hunt who will play his 50th Super Rugby game having previously played for the Crusaders.
"Ngane has worked incredibly hard since his arrival and his selection is reward for all that hard work and Mitch has been a class player for some time now and to play 50 Super Rugby games is a significant achievement for him," head coach Aaron Mauger said.
Kick-off for Saturday's clash at Loftus Versfeld is scheduled for 17:15.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Muller Uys, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Trevor Nyakane (captain), 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Ryno Pieterse, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Divan Rossouw
15 Michael Collins, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Ngane Punivai, 12 Josh Ioane, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 4 Jesse Parete, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone
Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Teihorangi Walden, 23 Tima Fainga'anuku
- The Highlanders