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Josh Ioane to make Super Rugby Aotearoa debut off Highlanders bench in Chiefs clash

All Blacks first-five Josh Ioane will return for the Highlanders this weekend after being named on the bench for Sunday’s clash with the Chiefs.

Josh Ioane Source: Photosport

Ioane, who withdrew before the side’s round one match against the Chiefs with a reaggravated groin strain, said he’s excited to get his first taste of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

“It’s been tough to be on the sidelines watching as there has been some great games going on and I’m excited to get the opportunity to get back out there” said Ioane.

The Highlanders have made just two changes to the team that lost last week against the Hurricanes in Wellington – both in the backline.

After starting every match so far in Super Rugby Aotearoa, Jona Nareki has been dropped to the bench to make way for Josh McKay.

To accommodate McKay’s arrival on the right wing, Scott Gregory will swap jersey No.14 for No.11.

Head Coach Aaron Mauger said he is looking for improvement from his team in this week’s match against the winless Chiefs.

“We have had our chances in every game we’ve played and the guys are working at getting better every time they run out, we are all aware the standard of play in this competition is extremely high and  you need your very best against any team.”

Highlanders: 1. Ayden Johnstone, 2. Ash Dixon (cc), 3. Siate Tokolahi, 4. Paripari Parkinson, 5. Jack Whetton, 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Dillon Hunt, 8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 9. Aaron Smith (cc), 10. Mitch Hunt, 11. Scott Gregory, 12. Patelesio Tomkinson, 13. Rob Thompson, 14. Josh McKay, 15. Michael Collins

Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Ethan De Groot, 18. Jeff Thwaites, 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20. Jesse Parete, 21. Folau Fakatava, 22. Josh Ioane, 23. Jona Nareki