Super Rugby Preview: Highlanders v Waratahs

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match Details: Highlanders v Waratahs, Rugby Park, Invercargill, 7.35pm, Friday, June 14.

Played: 24
Won: Highlanders 9, Waratahs 15
Last time: Highlanders 23-30 Waratahs, July 21, 2018, Sydney.
Referee: Mike Fraser


The Highlanders have shared points in three of their games this year; their abandoned home game with the Crusaders, and their home games with the Chiefs (31-31) and the Bulls (24-24). Their wins have been against the Chiefs (30-27a), the Reds (36-31), the Blues (24-12), the Sunwolves (52-0a) and the Jaguares (32-27). Losses have been against: the Rebels (19-24a), the Hurricanes (22-25a and 28-31), the Blues (26-33a), the Crusaders (17-43a), the Lions (29-38a) and the Stormers (22-34a). The Waratahs lost their opening game against the Hurricanes (19-20) then had wins over the Sunwolves (31-30a) and the Reds 28-17. They lost to the Brumbies (13-19a and 24-35). They beat the Crusaders (20-12) but then lost to the Sunwolves (29-31) and the Blues (29-32a). They beat the Rebels (23-20 and 20-15a) but lost to the Sharks (15-23), the Bulls (21-28a) and the Lions (28-29a). They beat the Reds (40-32a) and lost to the Jaguares (15-23).


Durable Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman joins the 100 Club for the side in Invercargill. Recently voted the Highlanders' player of the year, Coltman has only missed one game all season. Coming into the Highlanders as back-up for All Black Andrew Hore in 2013, he had earlier made his first-class debut for Otago in 2010. However, he won't be able to share the experience with fullback Ben Smith, who failed to come through training in the wake of his hamstring injury. Coach Aaron Mauger said, "Ben worked extremely hard to be available for the team this week, unfortunately, he is still a little short of being match ready." Teihorangi Walden has recovered and will be back at second five-eighths.


As expected, Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has rested key Wallabies from his side to play the Highlanders. Michael Hooper, Kurtley Beale, Sekope Kepu, Bernard Foley and Rob Simmons will all be missing from the side which will be captained by halfback Nick Phipps who, if the Waratahs fail to qualify for the playoffs over the weekend, will be playing his last game for the side. Back from injury are lock Ned Hanigan and Jack Dempsey who will come off the bench. Mack Mason will play first five-eighths for the first time since March while Cameron Clark will be on the right wing with Alex Newsome moving to fullback. Will Miller replaces regular captain Hooper at flanker while Hugh Sinclair will start on the blindside of the scrum with Harry Johnson-Holmes at loosehead prop.


The Highlanders have won their last four home games against the Waratahs while wing Waisake Naholo has had a hand in five tries (three tries, and two assists) in his last five games against the Australians.


The Waratahs have won their last two away games, and the last three they won three consecutive away games was three in 2016.


Highlanders: 1.Ayden Johnstone, 2.Liam Coltman, 3.Tyrel Lomax, 4.Jackson Hemopo, 5.Tom Franklin, 6.Liam Squire, 7.James Lentjes, 8.Luke Whitelock, 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Josh Ioane, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Teihorangi Walden, 13.Rob Thompson, 14.Waisake Naholo, 15.Josh McKay.

Substitutes: 16.Ash Dixon, 17.Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18.Siate Tokolahi, 19.Josh Dickson, 20.Shannon Frizell, 21.Kayne Hammington, 22.Marty Banks, 23.Elliot Dixon.

Waratahs: 1.Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2.Damien Fitzpatrick, 3.Tom Robertson, 4.Ned Hanigan, 5.Tom Staniforth, 6.Hugh Sinclair, 7.Will Miller, 8.Michael Wells, 9.Nick Phipps (captain), 10.Mack Mason, 11.Cam Clark, 12.Lalakai Foketi, 13.Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14.Curtis Rona, 15.Alex Newsome.

Substitutes: 16.Andrew Tuala, 17.Rory O'Connor, 18.Shambeckler Vui, 19.Ryan McCauley, 20.Jed Holloway, 21.Jack Dempsey, 22.Jake Gordon, 23.Tautalatasi Tasi.