Super Rugby Pacific teams: Highlanders keep Sam Gilbert at 10, Ioanes out for Blues

TJ Perenara will wear the captain's armband for the Hurricanes in the absence of Ardie Savea. PICTURE: STUFF SPORTS.

Crunch time is here as the business end of the competition nears.

The crucial final standings on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder will be determined in the next two weeks, and the Kiwi teams can’t afford any slip-ups this weekend.

Round 14 starts with the Crusaders-Fijian Drua game in Christchurch on Friday, and concludes with the Highlanders hosting the Waratahs on Sunday afternoon.

Here are the lineups for the penultimate round of the regular season.

Crusaders v Fijian Drua

Friday, 7.05pm at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch

The Crusaders have rested Richie Mo’unga for their first game against the Super Rugby newcomers.

Fergus Burke has been trusted with the No 10 jersey, while standouts Pablo Matera and Will Jordan also sit out the game as the Crusaders chase a bonus-point win.

Centre Braydon Ennor will play his 50th game with Jack Goodhue moving inside to second five-eighth.

Leicester Fainga’anuku returns to the left wing after being a reserve for last week’s clinical 36-27 win over the Brumbies.

Crusaders: Chay Fihaki, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Fergus Burke, Bryn Hall, Ethan Blackadder, Tom Christie, Scott Barrett (c), Sam Whitelock, Zach Gallagher, Fletcher Newell, Ricky Jackson, Finlay Brewis. Reserves: Shilo Klein, Tamaiti Williams, Oli Jager, Dominic Gardiner, Corey Kellow, Mitch Drummond, Simon Hickey, George Bridge.

Fijian Drua: Kitione Taliga, Selestino Ravutaumada, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Teti Tela, Vinaya Habosi, Caleb Muntz, Peni Matawalu, Nemani Nagusa (c), Mesulame Dolokoto, Joseva Tamani, Ratu Rotuisolia, Isoa Nasilasila, Samuela Tawake, Zuriel Togiatama, Kaliopasi Uluilakepa. Reserves: Tevita Ikanivere, Haereiti Hetet, Manasa Saulo, Chris Minimbi, Raikabula Momoedonu, Leone Nawai, Ilaisa Droasese, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre.

Reds v Moana Pasifika

Friday, 9.45pm at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Moana Pasifika have restored Christian Leali’ifano to the No 10 jersey, with Lincoln McClutchie moving back to the bench after the loss to the Fijian Drua last weekend.

Levi Aumua is still missing from the midfield, where Solomone Kata and Danny Toala continue their partnership.

Tomasi Alosio makes a welcome return to the No 14 jersey, while Jonathan Taumateine gets a start at halfback as Moana Pasifika try to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing display.

Reds: Jock Campbell, Suliasi Vunivalu, Josh Flook, Hamish Stewart, Jordan Petaia, James O’Connor, Tate McDermott (c), Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Seru Uru, Angus Blyth, Ryan Smith, Feao Fotuaika, Matt Faessler, Harry Hoopert. Reserves: Richie Asiata, Dane Zander, Sef Fa’agase, Connor Vest, Angus Scott-Young, Kalani Thomas, Lawson Creighton, Filipo Daugunu

Moana Pasifika: William Havili, Tomasi Alosio, Solomone Kata, Danny Toala, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Christian Leali’ifano, Jonathan Taumateine, Henry Time-Stowers, Solomone Funaki, Sione Tu’ipulotu, Sam Slade, Michael Curry, Sekope Kepu (c), Ray Niuia, Abraham Pole. Reserves: Luteru Moli, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Joe ‘Apiokotoa, Alex McRobbie, Jack Lam, Ereatara Enari, Lincoln McClutchie, Henry Taefu

Chiefs v Western Force

Saturday, 4.35pm at FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton

Chiefs: TBC

Western Force: Jake Strachan, Byron Ralston, Kyle Godwin, Reesjan Pasitoa, Toni Pulu, Jake McIntyre, Ian Prior, Jackson Pugh, Tim Anstee, Fergus Lee-Warner, Izack Rodda, Ryan McCauley, Santiago Medrano, Feleti Kaitu’u (c), Tom Robertson. Reserves: Andrew Ready, Angus Wagner, Bo Abra, Jeremy Thrush, Will Sankey, Michael McDonald, Richard Kahui, Brad Lacey

Hurricanes v Rebels

Saturday, 7.05pm at Sky Stadium, Wellington

The Hurricanes have regained TJ Perenara and handed a start to hooker Dane Coles, but inspirational No 8 Ardie Savea is unavailable this week.

TK Howden deputises at the back of the scrum, with the Hurricanes also missing Devan Flanders, Brayden Iose and Reed Prinsep through injury.

However, there is better news on Ruben Love, who starts at No 15 in the place of Josh Moorby.

Loosehead prop Tevita Mafileo has been promoted to a starting role after impressing off the bench last week.

Hurricanes: Ruben Love, Julian Savea, Billy Proctor, Jordie Barrett, Salesi Rayasi, Aidan Morgan, TJ Perenara, TK Howden, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Blake Gibson, Isaia Walker-Leawere, James Blackwell, Tyrel Lomax, Dane Coles, Tevita Mafileo. Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Owen Franks, Scott Scrafton, Caleb Delany, Jamie Booth, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Wes Goosen

Rebels: Reece Hodge, George Worth, Andrew Kellaway, Matt To’omua, Glen Vaihu, Carter Gordon, James Tuttle, Tamati Ioane, Brad Wilkin, Michael Wells (c), Rob Leota, Matt Philip, Pone Fa’amausili, Jordan Uelese, Matt Gibbon. Reserves: James Hanson, Cameron Orr, Cabous Eloff, Josh Canham, Richard Hardwick, Joe Powell, Lukas Ripley, Nick Jooste

Brumbies v Blues

Saturday, 9.45pm at GIO Stadium, Canberra

Blues coach Leon MacDonald is expecting a “dog-fight” and has stuck as rigidly as he could to his strongest lineup up for the top-of-the-table clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.

As previously signposted, neither of the Ioane brothers is available this week, with in-form centre Rieko suffering a hamstring tweak last Saturday against the Reds, and blindside flanker Akira Ioane having a precautionary week off after his problem foot came up sore after the same match.

And firebrand utility forward Tom Robinson was a late defection when a head knock at Tuesday training ruled him out of an anticipated shift back to No 6.

The Blues should barely miss a beat, with the adaptable Bryce Heem slotting in to centre for his seventh start of the year, rookie prospect Anton Segner stepping into the loose trio and rising young lock Sam Darry partnering the red-hot James Tucker at lock.

The Blues bench is also boosted by the return of France-bound loosehead prop Karl Tu’inukuafe, the experienced Ricky Riccitelli at hooker and midfield power man Tanielu Tele’a.

The Blues can equal their franchise record win streak of 12 with victory at GIO Stadium, and can also seal top spot with a week to spare with a favourable result.

Blues: Stephen Perofeta, Mark Telea Bryce Heem, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Caleb Clarke, Beauden Barrett, Finlay Christie; Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papalii (c), Anton Segner, Sam Darry, James Tucker, Ofa Tuungafasi, Kurt Eklund, Alex Hodgman. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Nepo Laulala, Luke Romano, Adrian Choat, Sam Nock, Tanielu Tele’a, Zarn Sullivan.

Brumbies: Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Andy Muirhead, Noah Lolesio, Nic White; Pete Samu, Luke Reimer, Tom Hooper, Caderyn Neville, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper. Reserves: Billy Pollard, Scott Sio, Sefo Kautai, Nick Frost, Rory Scott, Ryan Lonergan, Hudson Creighton, Ollie Sapsford.

Highlanders v Waratahs

Sunday, 3.35pm at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

The Highlanders have kept Sam Gilbert in the No 10 jersey, with Micth Hunt missing from the 23 after taking a nasty head knock against the Western Force.

Denny Solomona has been brought straight back into the starting side after recovering from a hamstring injury, and he will will the No 14 jersey with Fetuli Paea shifting to the bench.

Up front, lock Sam Caird will go up against his former Waratahs team-mates, and promising young Tasman prop Luca Inch is poised for his debut off the bench.

Departing hooker Liam Coltman reclaims the No 2 jersey, with Andrew Makalio on the bench.

Highlanders: Connor Garden-Bachop, Denny Solomona, Josh Timu, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Scott Gregory, Sam Gilbert, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Billy Harmon, James Lentjes (cc), Josh Dickson, Sam Caird, Jermaine Ainsley, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Andrew Makalio, Luca Inch, Saula Ma’u, Max Hicks, Hugh Renton, Folau Fakatava, Marty Banks, Fetuli Paea.

Waratahs: Ben Donaldson, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Alex Newsome, Lalakai Foketi, Dylan Pietsch, Tane Edmed, Jake Gordon (c), Will Harris, Michael Hooper, Langi Gleeson, Hugh Sinclair, Geoff Cridge, Archer Holz, Dave Porecki, Te Tera Faulkner. Reserves: Mahe Vailanu, Angus Bell, Paddy Ryan, Jeremy Williams, Ned Hanigan, Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, Jack Grant, Jamie Roberts

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