The Highlanders have named an unchanged starting XV for their Vodacom Super 14 match against the Reds in Townsville.
Coach Greg Cooper has kepth faith with the side that beat the Brumbies 28-26 last weekend, meaning young lock Kane Thompson retains his place in the second row for the injured Tom Donnelly.
Donnelly, being tipped by some as an All Black squad contender, was a late scratching against the Brumbies when he rolled an ankle on the Friday and has not recovered in time for consideration.
Cooper has been talking up the Reds ahead of the game.
“I think the Reds have been very unlucky this year. They’ve had a very demanding draw and a lot of injuries,” Cooper told the Townsville Bulletin. “I’ve got a lot of respect for them and I’ve got a huge amount of respect for their coach Jeff Miller. They’ll be a tough one for us on Friday.”
HIGHLANDERS: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Neil Brew, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Richard Kahui, 10 Callum Bruce, 9 Jimmy Cowan; 8 Craig Newby, 7 Josh Blackie, 6 Hoani MacDonald, 5 Filipo Levi, 4 Kane Thompson, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Anton Oliver (c), 1 Clarke Dermody. *Reserves:* 16 Jason Macdonald, 17 Chris King, 18 Tim Boys, 19 Hale T-Pole, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Ryan Bambry, 22 Roy Kinikinilau.
REDS: 15 Julian Huxley, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Ben Tune, 12 Andrew Brown, 11 Peter Hynes, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Josh Valentine; 8 John Roe (c), 7 David Croft, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 James Horwill, 4 Mark Connors, 3 Rodney Blake, 2 Sean Hardman, 1 Greg Holmes. *Reserves:* 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Anthony Mathison, 18 Cameron Treloar, 19 Tom McVerry, 20 Nic Berry, 21 Tim Atkinson, 22 Tim Atkinson.