Highlanders head coach Tony Brown has included three of his Super Rugby players with the name Smith for this weekend’s match against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Aaron will start his 98th game for the Highlanders while Head Coach Tony Brown will certainly welcome back captain Ben Smith for his 122nd the game, in contrast Fletcher Smith will play just his 3rd game for the club at first five.
“Fletcher has trained well and showed some good form preseason he’s a young player with a lot of potential and we back him to do the job for the team on Saturday” said Brown.
Young Otago openside Dillon Hunt, who debuted off the bench last week, will get his chance to start as Elliot Dixon shifts to blindside and Gareth Evans moves to the bench.
Joe Wheeler will start in place of the injured Alex Ainley and the versatile Richard Buckman moves to the right wing to replace the injured Waisake Naholo.
Matt Faddes comes into the reserves as the Highlanders go with a conventional 5 forwards 3 backs combination this week.
This round of the Super rugby celebrates that rugby is a game for everyone. The players will wear coloured laces representing that rugby is a game for all New Zealanders no matter who they are, what they look like, their beliefs or abilities.
Head Coach Tony Brown said “We fully support the initiative; we absolutely need to play our part in showing that we embrace diversity. I believe rugby is a game for everyone regardless of shape, size, nationality, gender or whatever”
Liam Squire, Shane Christie, Ash Dixon, Dan Pryor, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo, Alex Ainley, Adrian Smith, Josh Dickson, James Lentjes, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Patrick Osborne were all unavailable for selection this week.
Jason Emery and Hayden Parker have been ruled out for the Super Rugby season.
Daniel Lienert-Brown , Liam Coltman , Siate Tokolahi , Joe Wheeler , Tom Franklin , Elliot Dixon , Dillon Hunt , Luke Whitelock , Aaron Smith , Fletcher Smith , Tevita Li , Rob Thompson , Malakai Fekitoa , Richard Buckman , Ben Smith ( c )
Replacements : Sekonia Pole , Aki Seiuli , Guy Millar , Jackson Hemopo , Gareth Evans , Kayne Hammington , Marty Banks , Matt Faddes