Am’s 49 caps include 39 appearances for the Cell C Sharks and 10 for the Isuzu Southern Kings. Springbok winger Sbu Nkosi will miss the encounter due to injury.

Nkosi will be replaced by new-recruit Madosh Tambwe, who will make his debut for the coastal side in the run-on team. The match kicks off at 08h05 (SA time) and will be broadcast live on SS1. 

Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger, meanwhile, has selected six debutants in his match-day squad, with Mitch Hunt (flyhalf), and wingers Jona Nareki and Tima Fainga’anuku making their first appearances for the team in starting lineup, while three more players are in line to make their debuts off the replacements bench.

Strong-running centre Rob Thompson will play his 50th match for the Highlanders against the visitors who started their season with a 23-15 win over the Vodacom Bulls in Durban. The Highlanders in turn have yet to get off the mark in their campaign after having a bye last weekend.

The last six games between the sides have seen each team pick up three wins, however, the Cell C Sharks won the six previous encounters in succession. In their last outing, the Durbanites won 15-14 in Dunedin.

Interestingly, the Highlanders have remained undefeated in their last five games on home turf (W3, D2), however, they have been unable to register a win in their last three games against South African opposition (D1, L2).

What they said:

Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt said the win over the Vodacom Bulls was important for the team to set the tone for the season, particularly before touring:  “It was a massive confidence booster and it was great to get onto the plane with a win. We play this match against the Highlanders under cover, so the conditions will suit us. I think the guys will find it refreshing, although this first week is tough because we’ll have just one training session due to the travel.”

Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger said: “The squad worked very hard during the preseason and the players are excited by the opportunity to play in front of our home supporters at our stadium.”

The teams:

Highlanders: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Tima Fainga’anuku, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Josh Ioane, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 James Lentjes (captain), 6 Dillon Hunt, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone. Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Michael Collins, 23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas.

Cell C Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Jeremy Ward. 

Head to head: 
Played: 22
Highlanders won: 9
Cell C Sharks won: 13
Highlanders points: 578
Cell C Sharks points: 579
Average score: 26-26

Match information
Date: Friday, 7 February 2020
Time: 08h05
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams, James Doleman
TMO: Chris Hart

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