Super Rugby

Highlanders name strong side for Blues

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Super Rugby Champions the Highlanders have named an experienced line-up to kick off their Super Rugby title defence against the Blues on Friday at Eden Park.

Highlanders head coach Jamie Joseph was able to select from all but two of his playing squad as just Mark Reddish and Marty Banks were unavailable due to injuries sustained in the preseason.

Joseph has named former Chiefs player, Liam Squire, at number eight in his debut Super Rugby competition match for the Highlanders.

Shane Christie will co-captain the team from the openside and young loosehead prop Daniel Lienert-Brown earns a start after some impressive preseason form. Alex Ainley and Dan Pryor return from their off season injuries to take their places on the bench.

The exciting trio of Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and Patrick Osborne will combine at the back and All Black first-five Lima Sopoaga will direct the attack.

The game will be a big occasion for two young Otago backs Teihorangi Walden at second-five and outside back Matt Faddes as both will be making their debuts.

Walden a former NZU20 representative will start the match, while Faddes a NZ Sevens player is in the reserves.

Highlanders

1. Daniel Lienert-Brown , 2. Liam Coltman , 3. Josh Hohneck , 4. Tom Franklin , 5. Joe Wheeler , 6. Elliot Dixon , 7. Shane Christie ( cc) , 8. Liam Squire , 9. Aaron Smith , 10. Lima Sopoaga , 11. Patrick Osborne , 12. Teihorangi Walden , 13. Malakai Fekitoa , 14. Waisake Naholo , 15. Ben Smith ( cc )

Replacements : 16. Ash Dixon , 17. Brendon Edmonds , 18. Ross Geldenhuys , 19. Alex Ainley , 20. Dan Pryor , 21. Fumiaki Tanaka , 22. Hayden Parker , 23. Matt Faddes

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