Nine All Blacks in Highlanders side

20 February 2019 04:44:03 EST

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger has brought in All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo, as his team look to make it two straight wins to start the Super Rugby season.

Naholo was missing from the side that beat the Chiefs 30-27 in Hamilton in the opening round, but has been picked to add some finishing power for the Otago franchise, who have nine New Zealand internationals in their starting side.

Naholo has replaced Matt Faddes on the right wing, while joining him in the backline will be Aaron Smith, who came on at half-back in Hamilton as a replacement for Kayne Hammington.

Mauger has brought Teihorangi Walden into the midfield after Sio Tonkinson was cited after being red-carded for his high shot on Chiefs skipper Brodie Retallick.

Changes to the forward pack include a start at blindside flanker for All Black Shannon Frizell, who has been promoted from the reserves.

Jackson Hemopo get the nod at lock, while All Blacks openside flanker Dillon Hunt has been promoted into the starting side and replaces James Lentjes.

The Highlanders, who are without winger Tevita Nabura (knee) for the season, have blindside flanker Liam Squire out with a hip injury.

Lock Jack Whetton will make his Super Rugby debut off the bench, with the experienced Marty Banks named to back up Josh Ioane.

Mauger said: "The Reds will bring a lot of energy and physicality to the encounter, history shows it's always a tough game for us.

"The team is excited to be at home in front of our own fans for the first time this season, no doubt the players will draw some energy from their support."

The Highlanders are 11/1 to win the Super Rugby final and 7/100 to beat the Reds.

View all Rugby Union betting