Highlanders shuffle line-up in loose forwards

Shannon Frizell will make his first Highlanders start at No 8 against the Lions this weekend....
Shannon Frizell will make his first Highlanders start at No 8 against the Lions this weekend. Photo: Getty Images
All Black loose forward Shannon Frizell is back for the Highlanders and will play his first game at No 8 for the franchise.

Frizell will join a new-look loose forward trio for the game against the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday morning (NZ time), as Luke Whitelock moves to the blindside flank and Dillon Hunt comes into the openside. James Lentjes moves to the bench.

Elliot Dixon has played at No8 in the past few games, but misses out this week and will have a rest.

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger said Frizell had got through all his designated All Black rests and was set to go. Frizell did not play last week against the Jaguares, and has not started a game since the Blues game almost a month ago.

Mauger had every confidence in Frizell to do the job from the back of the scrum.

"Shannon has a pretty good skill set and has trained there throughout the season. We have worked hard since we have got here and I have every confidence he will be fine there," he said.

Whitelock usually plays No8, but Mauger said he was going well on the blindside flank and did not want to change him.

Whitelock said the two roles were interchangeable and he was happy to play on the blindside.

Frizell is yet to start at game at No8 since joining the the side last year.

Tyrel Lomax comes into the tighthead propping role and Siate Tokolahi moves to the bench. Tei Walden returns to the midfield and Sio Tomkinson goes to the left wing to replace the injured Tevita Li, who is not on tour because of a hamstring injury.

Josh Dickson and Tom Franklin will lock the scrum.

Winger Waisake Naholo, who injured his knee in training at the start of April, has been cleared to play and will come off the reserves bench in Johannesburg.

Mauger praised Naholo for his diligence in getting over the injury and also the medical and strength and conditioning staff of the Highlanders, who worked hard to get the Fijian right.

Naholo was itching to get back on the field and will most probably be released in the second half.

With Jackson Hemopo still injured, Jack Whetton comes on to the reserve bench. The bench is bound to play a big part in the game as fitness is tested on the hard ground at Johannesburg and the Lions look to spread the ball wide.

Mauger said the side had a couple of training runs since arriving from New Zealand and everyone was fit and raring to go.

Highlanders team

To play the Lions on Sunday. 

Matt Faddes, Jordan Hyland, Rob Thompson, Tei Walden, Sio Tomkinson, Josh Ioane, Aaron Smith, Shannon Frizell, Dillon Hunt, Luke Whitelock (captain), Tom Franklin, Josh Dickson, Tyrel Lomax, Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siate Tokolahi, Jack Whetton, James Lentjes, Kayne Hammington, Daniel Hollinshead, Waisake Naholo.

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