Super Rugby Trans Tasman reaches its grand final on Saturday and it’s an all-Kiwi affair, as the Blues host the Highlanders at Eden Park.
The New Zealand duo meet in Auckland after a pair of perfect campaigns, with both winning five from five against floundering Australian opposition.
It was the Blues that secured top spot by virtue of points difference ahead of their visitors, with domestic champions the Crusaders squeezed out despite joining them on 23 points at the top of the table.
So the dominance of the men from Christchurch will be broken, while Aussie champions the Queensland Reds won just once after the borders opened up Down Under.
The Australian teams were so far off the pace that sole victory represented half of the nation’s success in total, as the Brumbies snaffled the only other win to join the Brisbane team on five points.
Tom Robinson is the only absentee from the Blues side that finished the regular season last weekend.
Akira Ioane is called up to replace the loose forward, while All Black Ofa Tuungafasi has failed to recover from injury in time for the showpiece.
Coach Leon MacDonald knows his men will be boosted by a boisterous home crowd at the iconic venue.
They also have the wood over their visitors in recent meetings, with the Blues coming good in four of the last five fixtures between the pair.
The Highlanders head north with the luxury of being able to name an unchanged starting line up.
That includes Pari Pari Parkinson and Jona Nareki, despite both hobbling out of their final regular campaign match a week ago.
Ash Dixon marks his 100th cap on the big day, with All Black star Aaron Smith directing traffic from scrum-half.
Experienced referee Mike Fraser will have the whistle as the Oceanic season comes to a climax ahead of the international action.
Super Rugby Trans Tasman final: Blues vs Highlanders prediction
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team’s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins use the methodology developed by Rugby Vision or StatsChat.
Super Rugby Trans Tasman final line ups: Blues vs Highlanders
Blues Starting XV: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Joshua Goodhue, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 AJ Lam.
Highlanders Starting XV: 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Patelesio Tomkinson, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Hugh Renton, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 James Lentjes, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Sam Gilbert, 23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas.