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Highlanders without their stars for B&I Lions

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 03: Waisake Naholo of the Highlanders is tackled by David Havili of the Crusaders during the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Highlanders at AMI Stadium on June 3, 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

The Highlanders have named a team to play the British & Irish Lions without seven key players who were unavailable due to national duties with the All Blacks and NZ Maori.

However, All Blacks Liam Coltman, Lima Sopoaga and Waisake Naholo have all been made available for this historic match.

The forwards are virtually unchanged from the starting pack that took on the Crusaders with only Jackson Hemopo and Dillon Hunt added.

In the backs Teihorangi Walden gets a rare start with Richard Buckman shifting to fullback due to the unavailability of regular fullbacks Ben Smith and Matt Faddes.

All Black Lima Sopoaga will play at 10 shifting Marty Banks to the bench and Kayne Hammington will make just his second start of the season at halfback.

On the bench a Highlanders debut looms for lock Josh Dickson and an opportunity for local boy Josh Renton to play at halfback in front of his home crowd.

Highlanders Head Coach Scott McLeod knows the match will be a big occasion “for some of these guys this will be the biggest rugby day of their careers, and it is a special moment in any rugby player’s life to play against the Lions. It’s going to be a massive occasion for the club and our supporters”.

Liam Squire and Matt Faddes were unavailable for selection due to injury while Ben Smith and Aaron Smith were unavailable due to All Blacks selection.Elliot Dixon, Ash Dixon, Joe Wheeler, Rob Thompson and Tom Franklin could also not be selected due to their NZ Maori selection.

Highlanders

1. Daniel Lienert-Brown , 2. Liam Coltman , 3. Siate Tokolahi , 4. Alex Ainley , 5. Jackson Hemopo , 6. Gareth Evans , 7. Dillon Hunt , 8. Luke Whitelock ( c ) , 9. Kayne Hammington , 10. Lima Sopoaga , 11. Tevita Li , 12. Teihorangi Walden , 13. Malakai Fekitoa , 14. Waisake Naholo , 15. Richard Buckman

Replacements : 16. Greg Pleasants-Tate , 17. Aki Seiuli , 18. Siosuia Halanukonuka , 19. Josh Dickson , 20. James Lentjes , 21. Josh Renton , 22. Marty Banks , 23. Patrick Osborne