Highlanders Super rugby head coach Aaron Mauger has named his team to play the Jaguares for the first time at Forsyth Barr Stadium
Highlanders loose forward Elliot Dixon will join an elite group of players when he brings up his 100th Super Rugby game against the Jaguares on Saturday.
Dixon will become just the sixth player to play 100 games for the Highlanders when he runs on to Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, following in the footsteps of current co-captain Ben Smith, Anton Oliver, Jimmy Cowan, Chris King and most recently, Aaron Smith.
“I’ve been very fortunate and privileged to play for this club for nine years, my entire Super Rugby career, and while bringing up my 100th game in Super Rugby means a lot, it’s the enjoyment I’ve had over the last decade and being able to come to work with a smile on face every day that means the most,” Dixon said.
“Dunedin, and Mosgiel, is mine and my family’s home, we love it and I love playing my rugby here.”
The Jaguares will be keen to get their four week tour off to a positive start while the Highlanders will want to head to South Africa next week on a winning note after last week’s draw against the Chiefs.
There is some rotation in the forwards with Ayden Johnstone and Siate Tokolahi starting, while the hard-working Daniel Lienert-Brown and Tyrel Lomax head to the bench.
Josh Dickson moves into the starting line-up and Liam Squire makes his return after a lengthy injury break.
In the backs, Matt Faddes, moves to fullback and Jordan Hyland will make his second appearance on the right wing. Patelesio Tomkinson will partner Rob Thompson in the midfield as Teihorangi Walden takes a break.
Dan Hollinshead, who has joined the squad as a replacement for Bryn Gatland, will make his debut from the bench and the talented and young, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, rounds out the playing 23.
It is a significant milestone for hard running number eight Elliot Dixon. Dixon will play his 100th Super Rugby game for the Highlanders. After making his debut in 2012 against the Brumbies, Dixon has featured in all positions in the back row – most memorably, scoring an amazing try against the Hurricanes to help the Highlanders to their 2015 title.
Head Coach, Aaron Mauger, has been impressed with Dixon’s form this season “to play 100 Super Rugby games for one club is an awesome effort, the fact that he is still demanding selection through his current form speaks volumes for Elliot and his attitude to the game. I’m sure the boys will want to put out an effort worthy of this milestone for him.”
“I’ve always been an admirer of the way Elliot plays the game whether it was for Southland, the Highlanders or the All Blacks. A hundred games is a mighty effort and I am sure a proud day for Elliot, his wife Paige and kids Huxley and Toby,” said Roger Clark, Highlanders CEO
NZ Rugby and the Highlanders will recognise the achievement post-match with a presentation.
Ayden Johnstone , Liam Coltman , Siate Tokolahi , Josh Dickson , Tom Franklin , Luke Whitelock (c) , James Lentjes , Elliot Dixon , Aaron Smith , Josh Ioane , Tevita Li , Patelesio Tomkinson , Rob Thompson , Jordan Hyland , Matt Faddes
Replacements : Ash Dixon , Daniel Lienert-Brown , Tyrel Lomax , Jack Whetton , Liam Squire , Kayne Hammington , Daniel Hollinshead , Thomas Umaga-Jensen