Highlanders

Cooper’s ‘young and the rested’

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The Highlanders’ two conditioning All Blacks, hooker Anton Oliver and prop Carl Hayman, will get their first taste of competitive rugby for the year when they play in a match with some of the Highlanders’ brightest young talent at Carisbrook on Thursday.

A selection of promising colts players within the Highlanders franchise will get their chance to impress Highlanders and New Zealand Colts coach Greg Cooper in a ‘hit out’ game tomorrow at Carisbrook.

While the main purpose of the game is to provide the young colts players with some game time and stake a claim for selection in Cooper’s national Colts side, it also affords the two All Blacks to shake off the cobwebs after being on a World Cup reconditioning plan for the past two months.

Apart from the young hopefuls and the two All Blacks the match will also feature a number of players from the Otago Rugby Academy, Air New Zealand Cup Focus Squad and Highlanders players from the initial and wider training group.

The teams will be made up from a number of players from these various groups.

And of course the game provides a chance for Hayman and Oliver to gain some match fitness before they are considered for selection for the Highlanders’ next match – against the Bulls next Saturday, March 24, at Carisbrook.

They are only expected to play around 40 minutes though.

Tom Donnelly has recovered from a lengthy shoulder injury and will play his first game in months.

All Black coach Graham Henry will hope to avoid a repeat of the injury drama that enveloped the match between the Wider Training Group teams of the Chiefs and Blues in Auckland on Tuesday.

Returning test stars Mils Muliaina (broken foot) and Joe Rokocoko (ankle) collected untimely injuries on their return to action.

 

365 Digital

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