James Haskell hasn’t been included in the Highlanders’ starting line-up despite a strong showing against the Springboks last week.
Haskell was one of the standouts for England in the 14-14 draw in Port Elizabeth. Only two matches remain for the Highlanders in this year’s Super Rugby league phase, and Jamie Joseph has decided that Haskell would be better utilised from the bench.
The Highlanders need to win their remaining matches to give themselves a chance of qualifying for the play-offs. It is thus strange that they would omit Haskell from the starting side, as well as All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore.
Jason Rutledge will start at No 2 while Tim Boys is preferred at openside flank. Prop Ma’afu Fia will begin the game at No 3 while there is a change to the backs with Kade Poki named on the right wing.
Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Tim Boys, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Nick Crosswell, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Subs: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Chris King, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 James Haskell, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Buxton Popoali’i.