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Ioane will start at fullback against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires tomorrow, as the Highlanders bring back Tei Walden to the midfield.
Ioane has been teamed up with Mitch Hunt in the inside back pairing as the Highlanders looked for a double playmaker option but it has met with mixed success.
Ioane, who has played at fullback before, played 12 of the side’s 16 games last year at first five-eighth.
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger said Ioane had played fullback in pre-season and had looked good. He had played fullback in the competition before and he was confident Ioane would pose a threat. His move to the back would also allow the Highlanders to bring back Tei Walden into the midfield.
Walden’s solidity and experience would help the Highlanders, Mauger said.
Mauger said winger Jona Nareki has cracked ribs and was likely to miss a month of the season. He is replaced by Tima Fainga’anuku.
Sio Tomkinson also comes back into the team after his three-week suspension and will start on the right wing. His defence would be an asset, Mauger said, and Tomkinson had been working hard on getting his tackling technique right.
Kayne Hammington comes in for resting All Black Aaron Smith while Ash Dixon, who will captain the team, replaces Liam Coltman at hooker, who is also rested.
Jesse Parete is expected back next week as he rests a few niggles. Josh Dickson should help the Highlanders lineout which has been not always been accurate.
There are three potential debutants on the bench, in prop Ethan De Groot, hooker Nathan Vella and lock Will Tucker.
The side has debuted almost a whole team of players and the season is only five games old. If the three new boys get on the field tomorrow there will have been 14 new Highlanders this season.
- The Highlanders Bravehearts team will take on the Crusaders Knights at Outram, at 1.30pm today.
Highlanders v Jaguares, Buenos Aires, tomorrow, noon
Highlanders: Josh Ioane, Sio Tomkinson, Ngani Punivai, Tei Walden, Tima Fainga’anuku, Mitch Hunt, Kayne Hammington, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Dillon Hunt, Shannon Frizell, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Josh Dickson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon (captain), Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Nathan Vella, Ethan De Groot, Jeff Thwaites, Will Tucker, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Folau Fakatava, Michael Collins, Josh McKay.
Referee: Damon Murphy (Auckland)