NSW young gun Will Harrison will make his first start of the season against the Force on Sunday, but not in his usual position.
Read on for all the latest round four Super Rugby Pacific team news.
Watch every game of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, streaming ad free, live and on demand only on Stan Sport. Sign up for your free seven day trial!
BLUES vs HIGHLANDERS, Friday 5.05pm AEDT in Auckland
Beauden Barrett will make his first start of the season for the Blues, who are missing Harry Plummer and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck due to shoulder injuries.
The winless Highlanders welcome back captain Aaron Smith into starting halfback duties.
BLUES (15-1): Stephen Perofeta, Mark Telea, Rieko Ioane, Bryce Heem, Caleb Clarke, Beauden Barrett, Finlay Christie, Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papalii (c), Taine Plumtree, Sam Darry, Luke Romano, Nepo Laulala, Kurt Eklund, Alex Hodgman
Reserves: Soane Vikena, Ofa Tuungafasi, Marcel Renata, James Tucker, Adrian Choat, Sam Nock, Tanielu Tele’a, Zarn Sullivan
HIGHLANDERS (15-1): Connor Garden-Bachop, Liam Coombes-Fabling, Scott Gregory, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Mosese Dawai, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith (c), Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Gareth Evans, Shannon Frizell, Josh Dickson, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Jermaine Ainsley, Liam Coltman, Ethan de Groot
Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Josh Hohneck, Bryn Evans, Hugh Renton, Folau Fakatava, Marty Banks, Ngantungane Punivai
The Rebels need less than two minutes to score the opening try
REBELS vs BRUMBIES, Friday 7.45pm AEDT in Melbourne
The winless Rebels have welcomed back some heavy hitters for the crucial clash against the unbeaten Brumbies at AAMI Park.
Wallabies Andrew Kellaway, Jordan Uelese and Reece Hodge are all included in the lineup along with Richard Hardwick, who joins Fijian international Moses Sorovi on the bench.
“It’s really exciting for our club to have Andrew, Jordan, Reece, Richard and Ross back in the mix this week,” Rebels coach Kevin Foote said.
“We’ve gone through the early stages of the season with a number of our senior players unavailable, so I’ve been really proud of some of our younger guys who’ve held those positions the last few weeks. We know we’re not far away – it’s all about finishing off the moments we’re creating and putting in a performance that ourselves, our partners, members and fans can be proud of.”
Meanwhile, Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has made four changes to his starting side, including handing 21-year-old lock Tom Hooper his first start.
“We’re fortunate this week to freshen a few players and give others an opportunity but with our depth at the moment, we’re swapping quality with quality so we’re happy with the makeup of the squad heading to Melbourne,” McKellar said.
“As a club, we’re all excited to see Tom Hooper get his first start for the Brumbies and equally, having Rod Iona in the finishers is special for a popular member of the group.
REBELS (15-1): Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Lukas Ripley, Raymond Nu’u, Glen Vaihu, Matt To’omua, Joe Powell, Tamati Ioane, Brad Wilkin, Michael Wells (c), Josh Canham, Matt Philip, Cabous Eloff, Jordan Uelese, Cameron Orr
Reserves: Efi Ma’afu, Isaac Aedo Kailea, Rhys van Nek, Ross Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick, Moses Sorovi, Carter Gordon, Young Tonumaipea
BRUMBIES (15-1): Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Jesse Mogg, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Pete Samu, Jahrome Brown, Rob Valetini, Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Connal McInerney, Scott Sio
Reserves: Billy Pollard, James Slipper, Sefo Kautai, Ed Kennedy, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Rod Iona, Chris Feauai-Sautia
Codie Taylor finishes it off for the Crusaders
CRUSADERS vs CHIEFS, Saturday 5.05pm AEDT in Christchurch
Richie Mo’unga will make his first start of the season for the Crusaders after being eased in off the bench last weekend.
He will match wits with Bryn Gatland of the Chiefs, who has also been handed his first start of the campaign.
CRUSADERS (15-1): Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Pablo Matera, Tom Christie, Ethan Blackadder, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett (c), Fletcher Newell, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody
Reserves: Brodie McAlister, George Bower, Tamaiti Williams, Mitch Dunshea, Cullen Grace, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Fergus Burke, George Bridge
CHIEFS (15-1): Emoni Narawa, Shaun Stevenson, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Bryn Gatland, Xavier Roe, Pita Gus Sowakula, Sam Cane (c), Kaylum Boshier, Brodie Retallick, Tupou Vaa’i, Angus Ta’avao, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross
Reserves: Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, George Dyer, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tom Florence/Laghlan McWhannell, Cortez Ratima, Rivez Reihana, Rameka Poihipi
O’Connor class sets up Reds try
REDS vs FIJIAN DRUA, Saturday 7.45pm AEDT in Brisbane
The Reds have made three personnel changes to their starting side, including the return of Taniela Tupou at tighthead prop.
Loosehead prop Harry Hoopert will make his first start of 2022 while Ryan Smith comes in for injured lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.
Openside flanker Fraser McReight will captain Queensland for the first time while Jordan Petaia moves to fullback in a reshuffled back three that features Jock Campbell and Josh Flook on the wings.
“It’s great to be back home this week playing in front of our Queensland fans,” Reds coach Brad Thorn said.
“They’ve been through a lot recently with the floods and hopefully we can put in a good performance for them and put some smiles on some faces.
“It’s great to have the Drua in the competition. Their style of play is positive and they’ll be full of confidence after their first win last week. We’re expecting a tough contest on Saturday night.”
Test halfback Frank Lomani is set to make his Drua debut via the bench.
“We are looking forward to a great challenge against last year’s Australian champions the Reds,” Drua coach Mick Byrne said.
“We have had a good week preparing ourselves for what we expect to be another physical game.”
REDS (15-1): Jordan Petaia, Jock Campbell, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Josh Flook, James O’Connor, Kalani Thomas, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight (c), Seru Uru, Angus Blyth, Ryan Smith, Taniela Tupou, Josh Nasser, Harry Hoopert
Reserves: Matt Faessler, Feao Fotuaika, Zane Nonggorr, Connor Vest, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Spencer Jeans, Lawson Creighton, Mac Grealy
DRUA (15-1): Baden Kerr, Selestino Ravutaumada, Apisalome Vota, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Vinaya Habosi, Teti Tela, Peni Matawalu, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Vilive Miramira, Meli Derenalagi (c), Ratu Rotuisolia, Samuela Tawake, Mesulame Dolokoto, Kaliopasi Uluilakepa
Reserves: Zuriel Togiatama, Jone Koroiduadua, Manasa Saulo, Sorovakatini Tuifagalele, Joseva Tamani, Frank Lomani, Jona Mataiciwa, Onisi Ratave
WARATAHS vs FORCE, Sunday 2pm AEDT in Sydney
Will Harrison will make his first Waratahs start of the season from fullback, replacing Alex Newsome to play the Force.
Newsome has moved to the wing to make way for Harrison, primarily a five-eighth, who came off the bench last weekend.
“I’m just happy to be back on the field,” Harrison said.
“It’s different being that second ball player almost. You’ve got more vision. I’ve played a lot growing up with Donno (Ben Donaldson) at 15 so we have a really good combination there but it’s probably just about being a good communicator, a good organiser and a link player with Donno and the forwards. So my goal is to make Donno’s life easier, sort of take as much pressure off him as I can.”
Meanwhile, former All Blacks lock Jeremy Thrush will make his first appearance of 2022 for the Force.
“Jeremy (will add a lot of experience to our forward pack,” Force coach Tim Sampson said.
“This gives Fergus Lee-Warner an opportunity in the six jersey, which is where he trained a lot during pre-season.”
WARATAHS (15-1): Will Harrison, Dylan Pietsch, Izaia Perese, Lalakai Foketi, Alex Newsome, Ben Donaldson, Jake Gordon (c), Will Harris, Charlie Gamble, Hugh Sinclair, Max Douglas, Jed Holloway, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Dave Porecki, Angus Bell
Reserves: Tom Horton/Mahe Vailanu, Te Tera Faulkner, Ruan Smith, Jeremy Williams/Geoff Cridge, Langi Gleeson, Carlo Tizzano, Jack Grant, Mark Nawaqanitawase
FORCE (15-1): Jake Strachan, Toni Pulu, Kyle Godwin, Bayley Kuenzle, Manasa Mataele, Reesjan Pasitoa, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Tim Anstee, Ollie Callan, Fergus Lee-Warner, Izack Rodda, Jeremy Thrush, Santiago Medrano, Feleti Kaitu’u, Tom Robertson
Reserves: Andrew Ready, Harrison Lloyd, Greg Holmes, Jackson Pugh, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Jake McIntyre, Richard Kahui
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!