The Highlanders are in their second week on tour arrived in Fiji on Monday. This is after traveling from Melbourne for the Super Round Rugby. They’ve spent the week training and acclimating to playing rugby in the hot. Humid temperatures that are vastly different from the autumnal Dunedin conditions they left a week ago.
Coming Saturday’s encounter at ANZ National Stadium in Suva will be another weekend of firsts. As it will be the Highlanders’. First meeting with the Fijian Drua, as well as the Fijian Drua’s first home game in Fiji. They spent the first few rounds of the DHL Super Rugby Pacific season in Australia
This is a crucial game for both teams, who have only one win this season. The Highlanders anticipate the Drua to rise to the situation. And they’ll be ready to equal them and put up an 80-minute performance.
Head Coach Tony Brown
Highlanders Head Coach Tony Brown anticipates a tense situation. As fans flock to witness their hometown team play for the first time.
“This game has so many unique characteristics for both teams”. “We expect a very determined Fijian Drua team to show up on Saturday. And they will be backed by a large contingent of home fans. Who will be watching their team for the first time,” he said.
“We’re anticipating a difficult match; the Drua play dynamically and unpredictably manner, then we’ll be at our most for the whole 80 minutes,” he added
Aaron Smith, who was unavailable for selection in round 10. It has been reinstated as captain of the squad for round 11.
Marino Mikaele-Tu’u returns to the number 8 shirt. Christian Lio-Willie earns a start in the number 6 jersey following a barnstorming effort last weekend. And Billy Harmon completes the loose forward trio at number 7. After suffering an injury against the Brumbies in Melbourne, Gareth Evans has returned to Dunedin.
The club will be motivated to succeed even more because of this weekend’s game. It will mark Tony Brown’s 100th game as a member of the Highlander coaching staff. A number he came close to achieving as a player (97 caps from 2016-11). And extends his overall coaching and playing experience to 197 games.
Andrew Makalio is also playing in his 50th Super Rugby match. Andrew debuted for the Highlanders this season after a stint with the Crusaders. Where he played 43 games between 2017 and 2021.
Highlanders vs Fijian Drua
The match of the 50th Super Rugby game will take place at ANZ National Stadium in Suva, Fiji. On Saturday, April 30th at 4:00 pm.
|Andrew Makalio||Ethan de Groot|
|Daniel Lienert-Brown||Rhys Marshall|
|Bryn Evans||Josh Hohneck|
|Jermaine Ainsley||Max Hicks|
|Sam Caird||James Lentjes|
|Christian Lio-Willie||Folau Fakatava|
|Billy Harmon||Marty Banks|
|Marino Mikaele-Tu’u||Hugh Renton|
|Thomas Umaga Jensen|
|Connor Garden Bachop|