Highlanders included Northland star Scott Gregory no. 15 jersey against the blues for the Saturday Eden Park game. Highlanders will be face Blues on 27 June Clash in the Aotearoa super rugby 2020.
Bryn Gatland, who nailed a late drop goal to seal the 28-27 victory, has been kept on the bench, with Josh Ioane still unavailable with a groin issue.
“it seems like a long time since my first game against the Rebels earlier in the year, and I am really looking forward to getting out there, with the talent we have in our backs you have to take your opportunities when you can,” Gregory said.
Another player Ngane Punivai who added to bench where he provide cover for the outside backs.
“They’re an 80-minute team,” Hammett said. “We’re seeing that they are strong finishers to go with all their other strengths.
“They’ve obviously got firepower around the park and their pack is going well.
“We saw an improvement through last year and pre-Covid they were travelling pretty well on the road, which is often a good sign of culture.”
“We were really happy with a lot of that performance but there were things we had to iron out as well,” he said.
“As you’ve seen all teams are used getting to these new rules.”
The game kicks off at 7.05pm on Saturday.
Highlanders: Scott Gregory, Sam Gilbert, Rob Thompson, Sio Tomkinson, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Dillon Hunt, Shannon Frizell, Josh Dickson, Pari Pari Parkinson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Jeff Thwaites, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Kayne Hammington, Bryn Gatland, Ngane Punivai