The very first game of 2024’s Super Rugby Pacific pre-season kicks off in Queenstown on Friday (6pm NZT) with a match between the Highlanders and Moana Pasifika.
Two of the bottom four finishers in the 2023 season, both sides will be out to prove a point in 2024 while recovering from some significant losses in personnel.
All Blacks Aaron Smith and Shannon Frizell have departed the Highlanders while Levi Aumua and Timoci Tavatavanawai are the big absentees for Moana this year. The latter of those players will feature off the bench against his former club on Friday, having joined the Highlanders this offseason.
While the Highlanders have named a starting unit and 14 reserves for the contest, the visiting Moana side have named an XV for each of the game’s quarters.
New Moana Pasifika recruit and former world champion with the All Blacks Julian Savea is set to feature in the second and third quarters of the game. Having made a name for himself on the left wing, Savea has expanded his skillset to include the midfield in recent years and will take the field at second five-eighth on Friday.
Highlanders team to face Moana Pasifika
1. Rohan Wingham2. Henry Bell3. Saula Ma’u4. Pari Pari Parkinson5. Max Hicks6. Oliver Haig7. Sean Withy (c)8. Blair Ryall9. Folau Fakatava10. Rhys Patchell11. Josh Whaanga12. Matt Whaanga13. Tanielu Tele’a14. Jonah Lowe15. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens
Reserves: Solomone Tukuafu, Jack Taylor, Jermaine Ainsley, Hugo Plummer, Billy Harmon, Hayden Michaels, Will Stodart, James Arscott, Cameron Millar, Jona Nareki, Sam Gilbert, Tevita Latu, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Martín Bogado
Moana Pasifika team to face Highlanders
First 20-minute block
James Lay (c)Sama MaloloSekope KepuTom SavageOfa TauatevaluIrie PapuniAlamanda MotugaIakopo MapuAisea HaloWilliam HaviliTuna TuitamaHenry TaefuPepesana PatafiloViliame FineDanny Toala
Second 20-minute block
Abraham PoleSama Malolo / Samiuela MoliSekope Kepu (c) / Sione MafileoTom SavageOfa TauatevaluIrie PapuniAlamanda MotugaIakopo MapuAisea Halo / Siaosi NgininginiWilliam Havili / D’Angelo LeuilaTuna TuitamaHenry Taefu / Julian Savea (c)Pepesana PatafiloKyren TaumoefolauDanny Toala
Third 20-minute block
Abraham Pole / Sateki LatuSamiuela MoliSione MafileoSamuel SladeAllan CraigMiracle FaiilagiSione Havili-Talitui (c)Semisi PaeaSiaosi NgininginiD’Angelo LeuilaAnzelo TuitavukiJulian SaveaNeria FomaiNigel Ah WongKyren Taumoefolau
Fourth 20-minute block
Sateki LatuTomasi MakaSuetena AsoumaSamuel SladeAllan CraigMiracle FaiilagiSione Havili-Talitui (c)Semisi PaeaEreatara EnariChristian LealiifanoAnzelo TuitavukiNeria FomaiNigel Ah WongViliame FineKyren Taumoefolau