Dickson back in lineup for Reds game

The Highlanders train at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday afternoon. PHOTO:PETER MCINTOSH
The Highlanders train at Forsyth Barr Stadium. PHOTO:PETER MCINTOSH
Highlanders lock Josh Dickson is back a week early.

Dickson coped a three week ban for a high shot on an opponent during the first half of the tense 22-21 loss to the Hurricanes last month.

The form lineout forward was not expected back until next week’s home match against the Force.

But he will line up for the game against the Reds in Brisbane on Friday night thanks to rugby’s equivalent of a defensive driving course.

Any player who has a citing or red card upheld by a disciplinary panel for foul play involving head contact may apply to have the final week of their sanction substituted by undertaking a coaching intervention that specifically addresses the technical tackle which caused or contributed to the foul play.

This intervention is overseen by the World Rugby coaching intervention expert review panel and is only be available to first time offenders.

Veteran hooker Liam Coltman and experienced loosie James Lentjes return to the starting line-up in the other changes to the pack, while young prop Saula Mau has been named on the bench.

The backline is unchanged.

Coach Tony Brown is pleased to be able to call on three experienced forwards.

“It’s great to have Colty, Jimmy and Josh back for this one,’’ he said.

‘‘The Reds are very strong up front, and it will be a tough old night

for the small numbers and we’re counting on energy off the bench when they’re called on as we know we will need all hands-on deck Friday night.”

It is the third and final week on tour for the Highlanders.

They had a hard-fought win against the Fijian Drua in Suva on the weekend and have travelled to Brisbane where it has been historically difficult to come away with a win.

Brown is mindful of the threat the Reds present.

“The Reds are the current Australian Super Rugby Champions and their form this year has again been right up there having won seven from ten.

‘‘[Coach] Brad [Thorn] has instilled a lot of confidence into his troops, and this will be a tough game for us no doubt.”

Melbourne Rebels and Green Island centre Ray Nu'u is set to miss the remainder of the Super Rugby Pacific season after receiving a four week suspension -- his second ban of the competition.

The 24-year-old was sent off in the final minute of the Rebels' win over Moana Pasifika for a high shot on playmaker Christian Lealiifano.

Highlanders named to play the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on May 6:

Highlanders: Ethan de Groot, Liam Coltman, Jermaine Ainsley, Bryn Evans, Josh Dickson, James Lentjes (cc), Billy Harmon, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Aaron Smith (cc), Mitch Hunt, Scott Gregory, Fetuli Paea, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Sam Gilbert, Connor Garden-Bachop. Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Saula Mau, Max Hicks, Hugh Renton, Folau Fakatava, Marty Banks, Mosese Dawai.

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