The Highlanders have named their squad to face the Reds in the opening round of the trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition with All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell noticeably absent.
In a press release this afternoon, the Highlanders named their squad for Friday’s curtain-raiser in Dunedin where they said there were only “minor changes to the team that played in the last round of Super Rugby Aotearoa”.
Pari Pari Parkinson returns from injury to start at lock while in the backs, Michael Collins has come in to the midfield which pushes Sio Tomkinson to the right wing and Sam Gilbert to fullback.
The team also noted “Hugh Renton coming into the starting XV” with the loose forward taking over from Frizell at No.6.
No mention of Frizell was made in the release though, who has dropped out of the matchday 23 all together.
The absence comes after a report earlier this week that Frizell was allegedly involved in the assault of a woman at a Dunedin bar on the weekend.
Stuff reported the 13-Test All Black was part of an alleged incident that took place at Vault 21 – a popular restaurant and bar complex in the centre of the city.
A police spokesperson said in a statement to 1 NEWS on Monday they were investigating a report of an assault at “a bar in the Octagon” at approximately 2:30am on Sunday.
The Octagon is known as the hub for Dunedin’s nightlife in the middle of town.
Officers weren’t called to the incident, but police were notified of the situation and allegations on Sunday afternoon. St John ambulance was also notified but did not attend.
Inquiries have since been launched but nobody has been arrested as of this afternoon, the police spokesperson added.
Highlanders CEO Roger Clarke said the club was aware of the alleged incident.
“We are aware of an alleged incident involving a player on Saturday night. We will investigate and make no further comment at this stage," Clarke said.
Friday's game kicks off at 7pm.
Highlanders: 1. Ayden Johnstone, 2. Ash Dixon (cc), 3. Siate Tokolahi, 4. Pari Pari Parkinson, 5. Josh Dickson, 6. Hugh Renton, 7. Billy Harmon, 8. Kazuki Himeno, 9. Aaron Smith (cc), 10. Mitch Hunt, 11 Jona Nareki, 12. Scott Gregory, 13. Michael Collins, 14. Patelesio Tomkinson, 15. Sam Gilbert
Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Ethan De Groot, 18. Josh Hohneck, 19. Bryn Evans, 20. James Lentjes, 21. Kayne Hammington, 22. Tim O’Malley, 23. Ngatugnane Punivai