Highlanders hitting the panic button?
Highlanders hitting the panic button?SHARE
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph appears to have hit the panic button, as he made six changes to the starting line-up that will face the Brumbies in Dunedin on Friday.
The only winless team in the competition after eight rounds, Joseph wielded a heavy axe.
In the forwards Ma'afu Fia comes back into the front row and centurion Chris King drops down to the bench.
Jarrad Hoeata moves back into the engine room, joining Brad Thorn as his locking partner. Hoeata's moved from the back row to the second row makes way for TJ Ioane, who starts in the run-on XV for the first time.
In the backs the Otago pairing of Fumiaki Tanaka and Hayden Parker will both make their first start for the Highlanders, replacing Aaron Smith and Colin Slade respectively.
In the midfield Phil Burleigh will start at outside centre.
Kade Poki returns from injury and will start on the right wing.
A number of players are still sidelined with injury – Tamati Ellison (shoulder – one to two months before return), Buxton Popoalii (concussion – one week), Shaun Treeby (hamstring – one to two weeks), Lima Sopoaga (ankle – six weeks) and Tony Woodcock (hamstring – one week).
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Phil Burleigh, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Mose Tuiali'i, 7 John Hardie, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Andrew Hore (captain), 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Chris King, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 Elliot Dixon, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Colin Slade, 22 Jason Emery.
Date: Friday, April 12
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 17.35 (17.35 AEST; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
TMO: Keith Brown (New Zealand)