The Highlanders are coming off a massive win over the Sunwolves and will be hosting the struggling Chiefs on Saturday.
The Chiefs have struggled this year with all their injuries and more so since McKenzie was ruled out for the rest of the season.
Coming up against a ramped Highlanders side who will welcome back some of their players that have been rested, will not be easy at all on Saturday.
The Chiefs is only 6 points behind the Highlanders in the log which makes this a crucial game for both sides. A win for the visitors will bring them right back in contention for a playoff spot.
The Highlanders will welcome back their inspirational All Black, Ben Smith after a weeks rest.
Dixon will hold on to the No 8 jumper as he is getting better and better since returning from injury.
After the good win last week coach Mauger kept the changes to the minimum with Matt Faddes shifting to the wing as Smith returns to fullback.
Although the Chiefs have suffered a lot with the injuries to Retallick and McKenzie, we do expect them to come out fired-up.
The Chiefs did get some good news this week with the return of All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala, halfback Brad Weber and winger Sean Wainui who all will start this weekend.
With Laulala back, Angus Ta’avao shifts to the bench and Sefo Kautai drops out of the 23, while Ryan Coxon replaces Tevita Mafileo as loosehead cover on the pine.
Alex Nankivell and Stephen Donald have been replaced on the bench by Shaun Stevenson and Bailyn Sullivan.
Some Interesting Facts (OPTA)
- Four of the last six Super Rugby meetings between the Highlanders and the Chiefs have been won by the away side on the day, including wins for the Chiefs in each of their last two away fixtures against the Dunedin-based side.
- The Highlanders have won 15 of their last 17 completed home games in Super Rugby (L2), although one of their two defeats in that spell came against the Chiefs (also Hurricanes).
- The Chiefs have lost their last three consecutive matches on the road against fellow New Zealand teams in Super Rugby, the last time they lost more in succession was a five-game stretch from May 2010 to May 2011.
- The Chiefs have conceded just seven penalties per game in Super Rugby 2019, fewer than any other team in the competition.
- Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs) has made 26 offloads in Super Rugby 2019, seven more than any other player.
Prediction: This is another cracking New Zealand derby so it is up for anyone to come out winners, but we will go with the home side by 9
Highlanders: Ben Smith (cc), Matt Faddes, Rob Thompson, Teihorangi Walden, Tevita Li, Josh Ioane, Aaron Smith, Elliot Dixon, James Lentjes, Luke Whitelock (cc), Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Tyrel Lomax, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown:
Replacements: Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone, Siate Tokolahi, Josh Dickson, Shannon Frizell, Kayne Hammington, Josh McKay, Sio Tomkinson
Chiefs: Solomon Alaimalo, Sean Wainui, Tumua Manu, Anton Lienert-Brown, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Marty McKenzie, Brad Weber, Tyler Ardron, Lachlan Boshier, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Brown, Michael Allardice (c), Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris, Atu Moli.
Replacements: Liam Polwart, Ryan Coxon, Angus Ta’avao, Jesse Parete, Taleni Seu, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Shaun Stevenson, Bailyn Sullivan.