Super Rugby Pacific teams round 11: Harrison in for Edmed, Lynagh, White out, Rebels change entire front row


It’s another big week of trans-Tasman rivalry with four Aussie teams going up against Kiwi opponents and the Brumbies hosting the Fijian Drua.

See how all the team news unfolds below.

(All times are AEST)


Hurricanes vs Waratahs, 5.05pm

Darren Coleman has made several changes to his side for Friday evening’s almighty task against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Of note, Will Harrison has been promoted at fly-half and will start ahead of Tane Edmed, who shifts to the bench.

Max Jorgensen has also been left out of the squad, which has seen Mark Nawaqanitawase move from the wing to fullback. That selection paves the way for Dylan Pietsch to return to the wing.

Former Fijian Rugby League international, Vuate Karawalevu, is also in line to make his Super Rugby Pacific debut after being selected on the bench.

“This week provides an opportunity for Will to take control of the team and steer them around from the opening whistle,” Coleman said. “I’m highly interested to see how this plays out.

Team heading to Wellington ????#HURvWAR #NSW150

— NSW Waratahs (@NSWWaratahs) May 1, 2024

“In keeping with the back three rotation of late, Max will rotate out of the side, enabling Dylan Pietsch to come back into the starting side. Dylan was great for Randwick last week and deserves his spot.

“We always wanted to give Vuate an opportunity at some stage this year. He’s been a committed and hard-working member of the squad and this is a good opportunity to see his attributes under the pressure of Super Rugby.”

Up front and there are several changes, with some good and bad news.

The good sees Hayden Thompson-Stringer return at loose-head prop, allowing Harry Johnson-Holmes to shift back to tight-head. Stringer-Thompson returns for a minor injury and replaces Tom Ross, who suffered a knee-injury against the Chiefs. He’s the fifth prop ruled out long term for the Waratahs.

Elsewhere, Fergus-Lee Warner comes into the starting side for Miles Amatosero, who drops back to the bench.

There’s two changes in the back-row, with Hunter Ward starting ahead of Charlie Gamble, and Langi Gleeson replacing the unavailable Ned Hanigan.

“Miles and Charlie move to the bench due to a disrupted training week with some niggling injuries which opens the door for Hunter Ward and Fergus Lee-Warner,” Coleman said.

“Hunter is a combative and industrious number seven who did well with his opportunity against the Blues last year and has been one of the top performers in the Shute Shield this season.”

Changes to the Hurricanes forward pack see Pouri Rakete-Stones, Devan Flanders and Peter Lakai come into the starting line-up while Justin Sangster is on the bench. Kianu Kereru-Symes makes his first start for the team at hooker. 

Richard Judd starts in the nine jersey with Brett Cameron at 10, while Riley Higgins and Billy Proctor combine in midfield. After two matches off the bench post injury, Bailyn Sullivan starts on the left wing.

The Canes have a stacked bench with with Du’Plessis Kirifi, TJ Perenara, Jordie Barrett and Salesi Rayasi set for action later in the game.

HURRICANES (1-15): Pouri Rakete-Stones, Kianu Kereru-Symes, Tyrel Lomax, Caleb Delany, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Devan Flanders, Peter Lakai, Brayden Iose, Richard Judd, Brett Cameron, Bailyn Sullivan, Riley Higgins, Billy Proctor (c), Josh Moorby, Ruben Love

RESERVES: Raymond Tuputupu, Xavier Numia, Pasilio Tosi, Justin Sangster, Du’Plessis Kirifi, TJ Perenara, Jordie Barrett, Salesi Rayasi

WARATAHS (1-15): Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Julian Heaven, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Hugh Sinclair, Fergus Lee-Warner, Lachlan Swinton, Hunter Ward, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon (c), Will Harrison, Dylan Pietsch, Lalakai Foketi, Joey Walton, Triston Reilly, Mark Nawaqanitawase

RESERVES: Jay Fonokalafi, Lewis Ponini, Brad Amituanai, Miles Amatosero, Charlie Gamble, Jack Grant, Tane Edmed, Vuate Karawalevu

Referee: Dan Waenga

Assistant Referees: Paul Williams, Mike Winter.


Rebels vs Blues, 7.35pm

After suffering a demoralising defeat to the Crusaders, the road ahead doesn’t get any easier for the Rebels who welcome the in-form Blues.

Rebels coach Kevin Foote has responded to the side’s scrum woes last week by changing the entire front-row, which sees Isaac Kailea, Jordan Uelese and Taniela Tupou start.

The trio managed to lock down the scrum after Matt Gibbon and Sam Talakai were replaced after 31 minutes and instantly made a difference.

There are two changes to the back five forwards, with Angelo Smith starting alongside Josh Canham in the second-row.

Captain Rob Leota returns to the starting side too. The Wallaby has come in for Maci Nabolakasi and will form a back-row combination alongside Josh Kemeny and Vaiolini Ekuasi.

There’s just the one change to the backline, with Matt Proctor coming in at outside centre. That sees Filipo Daugunu shift to the wing and forces Lachie Anderson to the bench.

Leota said his side needed to respond from their embarrassing 39-0 thrashing at the previously bottom-placed Crusaders and ensure they match the Blues’ physicality.

“We didn’t match them physically, that’s the biggest thing that we took out of the review and we really want to get a response (against the Blues) because we weren’t up to scratch,” Leota said.

Rob Leota. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

“When you come off a break you’ve got to stay at that level.

“We had a good review in our forwards meeting and we understand that’s not us, that isn’t how we like to scrum … the Crusaders pack had a lot of guys back but that doesn’t take away from us not showing up in that area.”

PJ Sheck will make his debut for the Blues while Cam Suafoa is back in the 23 following cancer treatment.

Sheck, who made one appearance for the Highlanders last season joins the experienced Ricky Riccitelli and Ofa Tu’ungafasi in the front row for his debut at tighthead.

Suafoa, who has spent large parts of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season on the sidelines undergoing radiation treatment for a cancerous tumor in his back, returns, having finished radiation treatment last month.

In the backline, Caleb Clarke returns to start on his preferred Left Wing, meaning Mark Tele’a switches back to the 14 jersey for Friday night against the Rebels.

AJ Lam gets his first start at No.12 this season playing outside Harry Plummer.

REBELS (1-15): Isaac Kailea, Jordan Uelese, Taniela Tupou, Angelo Smith, Josh Canham, Josh Kemeny, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Rob Leota (c), Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Darby Lancaster, David Feliuai, Matt Proctor, Filipo Daugunu, Andrew Kellaway

RESERVES: Ethan Dobbins, Matt Gibbon, Sam Talakai, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Maciu Nabolakasi, Jack Maunder, Jake Strachan, Lachie Anderson

BLUES (1-15): Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Ricky Riccitelli, PJ Sheck, Patrick Tuipulotu (c), Laghlan McWhannell, Anton Segner, Dalton Papali’i, Hoskins Sotutu, Taufa Funaki, Harry Plummer, Caleb Clarke, AJ Lam, Rieko Ioane, Mark Tele’a, Cole Forbes

RESERVES: Kurt Eklund, Joshua Fusitu’a, Marcel Renata, Sam Darry, Cam Suafoa, Sam Nock, Corey Evans, Bryce Heem

Referee: Angus Gardner

Assistant Referees: Matt Kellahan, James Palmer.


Moana Pasifika vs Highlanders, 12.05pm

History awaits as Moana Pasifika prepares to play the first ever Super Rugby Pacific match in Tonga against the Highlanders.

Twelve players of Tongan heritage will feature in the match for Moana Pasifika.

Jonathan Taumateine earns a start at halfback and Christian Lealiifano moves into the starting flyhalf position. William Havili shifts to fullback. 

In the forward pack, Lotu Inisi moves into the starting lineup at No. 8 and Jacob Norris goes back to six. 

Tongan Solomone Funaki returns from injury and to the field for the first time this season, named on the bench.

PASIFIKA (1-15): Abraham Pole, Samiuela Moli, Sione Mafileo, Tom Savage, Allan Craig, Jacob Norris, Sione Havili Talitui (c), Lotu Inisi, Jonathan Taumateine, Christian Lealiifano, Fine Inisi, Julian Savea, Henry Taefu. Viliami Fine, William Havili

RESERVES: Sama Malolo, Sateki Latu, Sekope Kepu, Ola Tauelangi, Solomone Funaki, Ereatara Enari, Danny Toala, Neria Fomai

HIGHLANDERS (1-15): Daniel Lienert-Brown, Henry Bell, Saula Ma’u, Mitch Dunshea, Fabian Holland, Oliver Haig, Sean Withy, Billy Harmon (c), Folau Fakatava, Cameron Millar, Connor Garden-Bachop, Jake Te Hiwi, Tanielu Tele’a, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

RESERVES: Jack Taylor, Ayden Johnstone, Jermaine Ainsley, Will Tucker, Nikora Broughton, James Arscott, Sam Gilbert, Martin Bogodo

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe

Assistant Referees: Stu Curran, Jackson Henshaw

Crusaders vs Reds 2.35pm

Wales legend Leigh Halfpenny makes his belated debut for the Crusaders.

The Welshman, who has more than 100 caps for his country and sits third in their all-time points scorer list (801), will start at fullback on debut on Saturday. Chay Fihaki goes to the bench.

In the other big change, David Havili will start at 10 with Rivez Reihana shifting to the bench. Expect matu

CRUSADERS (1-15): George Bower, Brodie McAlister, Fletcher Newell, Scott Barrett (c), Quinten Strange, Cullen Grace, Ethan Blackadder, Christian Lio-Willie, Mitch Drummond, David Havili, Sevu Reece, Dallas McLeod, Levi Aumua, Johnny McNicholl, Leigh Halfpenny

RESERVES: George Bell, Joe Moody, Owen Franks, Jamie Hannah, Corey Kellow, Noah Hotham, Rivez Reihana, Chay Fihaki

REDS (1-15): Peni Ravai, Matt Faessler, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ryan Smith, Angus Blyth, Liam Wright (c), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Kalani Thomas, Lawson Creighton, Mac Grealy , Hunter Paisami, Josh Flook, Tim Ryan, Jock Campbell

RESERVES: Josh Nasser, Sef Fa’agase, Zane Nonggorr, Connor Vest, John Bryant, Louis Werchon, Harry McLaughlin-Philips, Suliasi Vunivalu

Referee: Jordan Way

Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy, Jeremy Markey.

Chiefs vs Force, 5.05pm

The Western Force have lost Wallabies Nic White and Sam Carter for Saturday’s intimidating clash against the Chiefs in Waikato.

But it’s not all bad news, with Jeremy Williams returning to the starting side and Tom Franklin recovering from concussion to form a second-row pairing. That selection sees Izack Rodda, who is playing his third match after a series of foot injuries, return to the bench.

Up front and Josh Bartlett will start for the first time, which sees loose-head prop Marley Pearce return to the bench.

Wallabies Issac Fines-Leleiwasa comes in at halfback for the injured White (knee), with Henry Robertson coming onto the bench.

The World Cup member is the only change to the run-on side that went down 7-6 to the Highlanders in Dunedin last week.

Prop Kauvaka Kaivelata is set to debut at home for the Chiefs while All Black and skipper Luke Jacobson returns from injury via the bench.

CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Bradley Slater, George Dyer, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tupou Vaa’i, Samipeni Finau, Kalyum Boshier (c), Wallace Sititi, Cortez Ratima, Damian McKenzie, Daniel Rona, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert-Brown, Emoni Narawa, Etene Nanai-Seturo

RESERVES: Tyrone Thompson, Ollie Norris, Kauvaka Kalvelata, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Luke Jacobson, Simon Parker, Xavier Roe, Josh Ioane

FORCE (1-15): Josh Bartlett, Tom Horton, Santiago Medrano, Tom Franklin, Jeremy Williams (c), Will Harris, Carlo Tizzano, Reed Prinsep, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Ben Donaldson, Chase Tiatia, Hamish Stewart, Sam Spink, Bayley Kuenzle, Kurtley Beale

RESERVES: Feleti Kaitu’u, Marley Pearce, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Izack Rodda, Michael Wells, Henry Robertson, Max Burey, Henry O’Donnell

Referee: James Doleman

Assistant Referees: Jono Bredin, Fraser Hannon.

Brumbies vs Fijian Drua, 7.35pm

Drua coach Mick Byrne has made ten changes to the Drua squad this week.

BRUMBIES (1-15):  James Slipper, Connal McInerney, Allan Alaalatoa (C), Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Jahrome Brown, Rory Scott, Rob Valetini, Harrison Goddard, Noah Lolesio, Ollie Sapsford, Tamati Tua, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright

RESERVES: Billy Pollard, Harry Vella, Sefo Kautai, Darcy Swain, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Declan Meredith, Hudson Creighton

DRUA (1-15): Haereiti Hetet, Tevita Ikanivere, Mesake Doge, Mesake Vocevoce, Isoa Nasilasila, Vilive Miramira, Kitione Salawa, Meli Derenalagi (c), Peni Matawalu, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Taniela Rakuro, Michael Naitokani, Iosefo Masi, Junior Ratvua, Selestino Ravutaumada

RESERVES: Mesu Dolokoto, Livai Natave, Samu Tawake, Leone Rotuisolia, Motikiai Murray, Simione Kuruvoli, Kemu Valetini, Ilaisa Droasese

Referee: Nic Berry

Assistant Referees: Jordan Kaminsky, George Myers.

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