The Super Rugby Aotearoa will kick off on Saturday morning with supporters all over the world are looking forward to see live rugby on the telly again.
It all starts with the Highlanders hosting the Chiefs on Saturday in Dunedin. A great crowd is expected at Forsyth Barr Stadium which will make it extra special to see live rugby again coming from New Zealand.
The Highlanders will have two debutants with Sam Gilbert who will start the match and Vilimoni Koroi who will make his impact felt off the bench later on in the match.
Josh Ioane will be starting at flyhalf and Micth Hunt will take the number fifteen jumper for the home side.
Warren Gatland, the Chiefs coach, has named Kaleb Trask at flyhalf which surprised many as everyone expected the All Black Aaron Cruden to start but Gatland decided to use Cruden off the bench the weekend.
Lachlan Boshier will get his 50th cap for the Chiefs starting on the side off the scrum with debutant Tupou Vaa’i at lock for this clash.
The Chiefs supporters will be happy to see All Black prop Nepo Laulala and Luke Jacobson who will both start the match.
There are bunch off new laws that the players will have to adopt too and if you have not seen them yet see below
Some Interesting Facts (OPTA)
- The Chiefs have lost only one of their last five Super Rugby games against the Highlanders (W3, D1); however, the last encounter between the teams in the competition ended in a 31-31 draw.
- The Highlanders’ last home win against the Chiefs in Super Rugby came in Round 17, 2016; they have since picked up one draw and two defeats in such fixtures.
- The Highlanders have lost five of their last six completed Super Rugby games (W1), including their last three on the bounce.
- The Highlanders have lost their last two home games on the bounce in Super Rugby; the last time they lost more home games in succession in the competition was a six-game losing streak across the 2012 and 2013 campaigns.
- Each of the Chiefs’ last four Super Rugby games have been won by the away team on the day, with the Hamilton-based squad picking up two wins and two defeats in that stretch.
- The Chiefs have won three of their last four Super Rugby games against fellow New Zealand opponents (L1), despite trailing at half-time on the day in each of those four games.
- The Highlanders have gained 500+ metres in three of their last five home games against fellow New Zealand opponents in Super Rugby, after having done so only once in 17 such fixtures prior.
- The Chiefs have conceded 10+ penalties in six of their last seven Super Rugby fixtures, as many times as they had done so in their 24 games prior.
- Shannon Frizell (Highlanders) has scored two tries in just 90 minutes of Super Rugby action against the Chiefs, as well as making three offloads in that time.
- Lachlan Boshier (Chiefs) has crossed for a try in five of his last seven Super Rugby appearances, including each of his last three on the bounce.
Although the Highlanders are at home and the Chiefs have some injury concerns we still think the Chiefs will pull this one through.
Prediction: Chiefs by 12
HIGHLANDERS: 1. Ayden Johnstone 2. Ash Dixon © 3. Siate Tokolahi 4. Paripari Parkinson 5. Josh Dickson 6. Shannon Frizell 7. Dillon Hunt 8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u 9. Aaron Smith 10. Josh Ioane 11. Jona Nareki 12. Patelesio Tomkinson 13. Rob Thompson 14. Sam Gilbert* 15. Mitch Hunt
Replacements: 16. Liam Coltman 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown 18. Jeff Thwaites 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit 20. Teariki Ben-Nicholas 21. Kayne Hammington 22. Teihorangi Walden 23. Vilimoni Koroi
CHIEFS: 1. Aidan Ross 2. Samisoni Taukei’aho 3. Nepo Laulala 4. Mitchell Brown 5. Tupou Vaa’i* 6. Luke Jacobson 7. Lachlan Boshier 8. Pita Gus Sowakula 9. Brad Weber 10. Kaleb Trask 11. Sean Wainui 12. Anton Lienert-Brown 13. Quinn Tupaea 14. Shaun Stevenson 15. Damian McKenzie
Replacements: 16. Bradley Slater 17. Ryan Coxon 18. Ross Geldenhuys 19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi 20. Dylan Nel 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi 22. Aaron Cruden 23. Etene Nanai-Seturo