Super Rugby Round 15
Nonu returns to boost Highlanders
May 20, 2013
Ma'a Nonu has missed the Highlanders' past three games © Getty Images
Ma'a Nonu is one of three players who will join the Highlanders for Saturday's cash with the Western Force in Perth.
As the Highlanders flew from Johannesburg to Australia, Nonu, utility back Trent Renata and prop Bronson Murray flew out of Dunedin to join their team-mates in the Western Australian capital.
Nonu has missed the past three games, including the two in South Africa, to try to overcome a nagging knee injury but he is available for the bottom-of-the-table match at the weekend. His replacement, Shaun Treeby, who had just returned after two months out with a hamstring injury, suffered a head knock in the first half of the 18-35 loss to the Bulls.
Murray will replace Chris King, who ruptured the bicep muscle in his right arm in Pretoria and is expected to be out for some time. Fellow prop Jamie Mackintosh is also in doubt for the Force game after twisting his knee against the Bulls.
Renata, who was called into the Highlanders after the backs were depleted by injuries, has yet to take the field but might get a chance against the Force. The back stocks are down with wings Kade Poki and Buxton Popoali'i, utility back Phil Burleigh, and fly-half Lima Sopoaga all out with significant injuries.
Coach Jamie Joseph hinted before the Highlanders left South Africa that he would consider giving a start to some of the younger players in Perth as the demands of the long season kicked in. Hooker Liam Coltman, centre Jason Emery and loose forward TJ Ioane all provided energy and impetus off the bench and are likely to be rewarded with starts.
With just one win from 11 matches, the Highlanders are in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon against the second-bottom Force. The Highlanders are last on 16 points and the Force second bottom on 19 points with two wins, a draw and 10 losses from 13 games.