PREVIEW: Highlanders v Sunwolves

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Friday, April 21, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

In subsequent weeks they play the Stormers, the Cheetahs (away), the Bulls (away), the Force (away) before meeting the Waratahs at home with a visit to Christchurch to meet the Crusaders ahead of their June break. 

ROUND 9: Highlanders v Sunwolves, 5.15pm, Saturday 22 April, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin


It's going to be a tough evening for the Sunwolves in Invercargill. Yes they have the Bulls on their list of credits, albeit by one point 21-20 from two weeks ago, but they were shown what playing in New Zealand means when beaten 50-3 by the Crusaders last weekend. The Highlanders have had the bye after wins over the Brumbies (18-13), the Rebels (51-12) and the Blues (26-20). They have also welcomed back some key personnel to their starting line-up and they know all points against non-New Zealand teams are vital.
Coming back into the side having missed the Crusaders loss is No.8 Willie Britz and according to coach Filo Tiatia, Britz can't wait to take on the Highlanders. Centre William Tupou makes his first appearance since the side's game with the Cheetahs in South Africa. He will replace Derek Carpenter. The Highlanders were a side the Sunwolves had a lot of connections with. Highlanders assistant coach Mark Hammett was the Sunwolves coach last year while Tony Brown is the assistant coach for the Japan team now coached by Jamie Joseph and halfback Fumiaki Tanaka had a four-year association with the Highlanders.

The Highlanders will be packing a powerful punch in the loose forwards against the Sunwolves with Liam Squire starting on the blindside, Elliot Dixon operating off the open-side and Luke Whitelock at No.8. All three are All Blacks and if able to perform at anything like their respective optimums they could make life tough for the visitors. However, the Sunwolves are not without their own options in an area well-known to coach Filo Tiatia, with captain Edward Quirk on the blindside and Willie Britz starting at No.8.


Highlanders: 1.Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2.Liam Coltman, 3.Siate Tokolahi, 4.Alex Ainley, 5.Joe Wheeler, 6.Liam Squire, 7.Elliot Dixon, 8.Luke Whitelock, 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Marty Banks, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Malakai Fekitoa, 13.Matt Faddes, 14.Waisake Naholo, 15.Ben Smith.

Substitutes: 16.Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17.Aki Seiuli, 18.Siosuia Halanukonuka, 19.Tom Franklin, 20.Gareth Evans, 21.Josh Renton, 22.Teihorangi Walden, 23.Sio Tomkinson.

Sunwolves: 1.Keita Inagaki, 2.Yusuke Niwai, 3.Yasui Yamaji, 4.Sam Wykes, 5.Uwe Helu, 6.Edward Quirk (captain), 7.Yuhimaru Mimura, 8.Willie Britz, 9.Fumiaki Tanaka, 10.Yu Tamura, 11.Yasutaka Sasakura, 12.Timothy Lafaele, 13.William Tupou, 14.Takaaki Nakazuru, 15.Kotaro Matsushima.

Substitutes: 16.Takeshi Kizu, 17.Koki Yamamoto, 18.Heiichiro Ito, 19.Shiny Makabe, 20.Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 21.Yuki Yatomi, 22.Hayden Cripps, 23.Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.