All Blacks duo Naholo, Frizell return to Highlanders starting side to face Crusaders

The Highlanders have welcomed back All Blacks Shannon Frizell and Waisake Naholo to start this weekend's clash with the Crusaders, while young first-five Josh Ioane has been given the nod to start.

Waisake Naholo. Source: Photosport

Coach Aaron Mauger has largely kept the faith with the side that suffered a narrow defeat to the Hurricanes in Wellington last week, after injury concerns in the side's 25-22 loss.

Teihorangi Walden comes into the side for Thomas Umaga-Jensen, while Jack Whetton is in for Pari Pari Parkinson. Elsewhere, Frizell replaces Jackson Hemopo in the lineup, with the versatile forward out of the 23 altogether.

Naholo is elevated to start on the right win in favour of Tevita Li, having been on the bench last week.

Mauger has shown his cards in expecting a physical clash with the Crusaders, with a 6/2 forward to back bench.

The Highlanders welcome the Crusaders to Forsyth Barr Stadium this Saturday night.

Highlanders: 15. Ben Smith (cc), 14. Waisake Naholo, 13. Patelesio Tomkinson, 12. Teihorangi Walden, 11. Richard Buckman, 10. Josh Ioane, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Luke Whitelock (cc), 7. James Lentjes, 6. Shannon Frizell, 5. Jack Whetton, 4. Josh Dickson, 3. Tyrel Lomax, 2. Liam Coltman, 1. Ayden Johnstone.

Reserves: 16. Ash Dixon, 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18. Siate Tokolahi, 19. Tom Franklin, 20. Elliot Dixon, 21. Dillon Hunt, 22. Folau Fakatava, 23. Marty Banks.