Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, Friday 5.35pm (AEST)Last meeting: Round 5 2012 – Brumbies 33 bt Highlanders 26 at Canberra StadiumHead-to-head: Played 17 Highlanders 7 Brumbies 1In Dunedin: Played 6 Highlanders 4 Brumbies 2Referee: Chris Pollock (NZL)TV: Live, FoxSports 2TAB Sportsbet: Highlanders $2.05 Brumbies $1.70
Steve Samuelson writes: The return of Jesse Mogg is a good omen for the Brumbies with the Australian conference leaders winning only one game out of three in the star fullback’s absence. The winless Highlanders have dumped All Blacks halves duo Aaron Smith and Colin Slade to the bench.
AAP writes: The Highlanders look much better than their winless record suggests, while the Brumbies have started to sag. Both teams have made six run-on changes – split between backs and forwards. Matt Toomua and Jesse Mogg have returned to the Brumbies backline but Pat McCabe has been benched.
Surprisingly, All Blacks halves Aaron Smith and Colin Slade have also been dropped to the bench for the Highlanders in a massive call. But damaging winger Kade Poki returns to wreak havoc alongside Hosea Gear, Ma’a Nonu and Ben Smith.
HIGHLANDERS: Ben Smith, Kade Poki, Phil Burleigh, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Hayden Parker, Fumiaki Tanaka, Mose Tuialii, John Hardie, TJ Ioane, Jarrad Hoeata, Brad Thorn, Maafu Fia, Andrew Hore (capt), Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: Liam Coltman, Chris King, Josh Bekhuis, Elliot Dixon, Aaron Smith, Colin Slade, Jason Emery.
BRUMBIES: Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight, Andrew Smith, Christian Lealiifano, Joseph Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Ben Mowen (capt), George Smith, Jordan Smiler, Sam Carter, Peter Kimlin, Dan Palmer, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander. Reserves: Siliva Siliva, Scott Sio, Fotu Auelua, Colby Faingaa, Ian Prior, Pat McCabe, Tevita Kuridrani.
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