June 18, 2021
Fijian winger Jona Nareki has recovered from a shoulder injury just in time for the grand final of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman and will start against the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday.
Pari Pari Parkinson has also been cleared and will add more strength to the team.
The pair left the field early during their 33-12 win over the Brumbies with shoulder complaints.
However, they have been named by Coach Clarke Dermody who maintains an almost unchanged starting line-up.
The only change comes on the bench, with Ayden Johnstone returning from a foot injury.
The Highlanders will enter the final with extra motivation as Co-Captain Ash Dixon brings up his 100th game for the club.
Dixon was recently named captain of the Maori All Blacks side, which is set to face Manu Samoa in a two-test series.
The team will also welcome back talisman halfback and All Black Aaron Smith and Kayne Hammington who had a strong game against the Waratahs reverts to the bench.
Hugh Renton swaps places with James Lentjes in the starting line-up while the rest of the team stays the same.
The game will be veteran hooker, Liam Coltman's, 128th cap making him the most capped hooker in Highlanders history surpassing Anton Oliver.
The final between the Highlanders and the Blues will kick off at 7.05pm.
Highlanders: Ethan De Groot, Ash Dixon (co-c), Siate Tokolahi, Pari Pari Parkinson, Bryn Evans, Hugh Renton, Billy Harmon, Kazuki Himeno, Aaron Smith (co-c), Mitch Hunt, Jona Nareki, Scott Gregory, Michael Collins, Sio Tomkinson, Josh Ioane.
Reserves: Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone, Josh Hohneck, Josh Dickson, James Lentjes, Kayne Hammington, Sam Gilbert, Teariki Ben-Nicholas.
By Romeka Romena