Super Rugby

Highlanders rotate Smith for Blues clash

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Highlanders Super Rugby head coach Aaron Mauger has named his team to play the Blues on Friday in Auckland and rotated All Black Aaron Smith to the bench.

The Highlanders beat the Brumbies in Dunedin last weekend coming off the bye and Mauger has largely stuck with the combinations from that match.

One notable change to the starting line-up is the rotation of halfbacks with Kayne Hammington earning his first start of the 2018 season and Aaron Smith moving to the bench.

Head coach Aaron Mauger noted Hammington’s good form of late and the chance to rotate his halfbacks, “Kayne has earned the opportunity and he is ready to give us what we need to start the game and Aaron will come on and finish well for us.”

Having played four of their first six games at home the Highlanders now begin a stretch of five away games in six weeks.

The Blues hold the upper hand over the last five years at Eden Park leading 3-2 on victories against the Highlanders.

Thomas Umaga-Jensen (shoulder), Richard Buckman (neck) Liam Squire (thumb) were both unavailable for selection for this week.

Highlanders

1. Daniel Lienert-Brown,2. Ash Dixon (cc),3. Siate Tokolahi,4. Jackson Hemopo,5. Tom Franklin,6. Shannon Frizell,7. Dillon Hunt,8. Luke Whitelock,9. Kayne Hammington,10. Lima Sopoaga,11. Tevita Li,12. Teihorangi Walden,13. Rob Thompson,14. Waisake Naholo,15. Ben Smith (cc)

Replacements : 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Aki Seiuli, 18. Tyrel Lomax, 19. Alex Ainley, 20. Elliot Dixon, 21. Aaron Smith, 22. Fletcher Smith, 23. Matt Faddes

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