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Super Rugby: Highlanders v Chiefs match preview
The Highlanders have shuffled their pack for Friday's Super Rugby derby with the Chiefs in Dunedin.
Jamie Joseph's side currently sit second in the New Zealand Conference, however back-to-back defeats means the Hurricanes and the Chiefs are hot on their heels.
Liam Coltman, Jarrad Hoeata and Gareth Evans are all missing from the Highlanders squad, with hooker Brayden Mitchell and lock Tom Franklin earning their chance after impressing in the friendly against the New Zealand Barbarians.
Blindside flanker Elliot Dixon is promoted to the starting XV with Lee Allen coming onto the replacements bench as back row cover.
The Chiefs have rotated their squad as they look to revive their play-off challenge.
The defending champions are currently fourth in the New Zealand Conference – and eighth in the overall standings – however they are just two points behind the Highlanders and next week’s opponents, the Hurricanes.
As a result, coach Dave Rennie has recalled Gareth Anscombe, Robbie Fruean, Bundee Aki and Augustine Pulu to his back division, with Tom Marshall switching to the wing.
There are four more changes in the pack with Pauliasi Manu, Mahonri Schwalger, Michael Fitzgerald and Tanerau Latimer all starting.
Chiefs: 15 Anscombe, 14 Sweeney, 13 Fruean, 12 Aki, 11 Marshall, 10 Cruden (c), 9 Pulu, 1 Manu, 2 Schwalger, 3 Tameifuna, 4 Fitzgerald, 5 Retallick, 6 Messam, 7 Latimer, 8 Squire.
Replacements: 16 Harris, 17 Mackintosh, 18 Hohneck, 19 Symons, 20 Koloamatangi, 21 Kerr-Barlow, 22 Nanai-Williams, 23 Lowe
Highlanders: 15 B Smith, 14 Buckman, 13 Fekitoa, 12 Treeby, 11 Osborne, 10 Sopoaga, 9 A Smith, 1 Hames, 2 Mitchell, 3 Fia, 4 Franklin, 5 Wheeler, 6 Dixon, 7 Christie, 8 Manu.
Replacements: 16 Robinson, 17 Diaz, 18 King, 19 Bekhuis, 20 Allan, 21 Tanaka, 22 Parker, 23 Burleigh
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com