The Highlanders have named ten current or past All Blacks in their Super rugby line up to play the Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Friday.
After a series of good performances off the bench, front row strong man Kalolo Tuiloma earns his first start of the season, while Liam Squire’s barnstorming effort against the Reds ensures a start on the blindside for the big All Black back rower.
Luke Whitelock returns at eight with livewire halfback Aaron Smith partnering Lima Sopoaga in the halves and talisman co-captain Ben Smith back calling the shots from fullback after a week away.
Fresh from his selection in the All Blacks, versatile loosie Shannon Frizell will have some very experienced company on the bench in the form of Liam Coltman, Elliot Dixon and Richard Buckman who have collectively tasted the half time oranges in super rugby 216 times.
Interim Head Coach Mark Hammett is glad to be back at home, “we have had four of our last five weeks on the road so the guys are excited about playing at home. ”
“We want to give a huge push towards making the playoffs this week before we hit the June break. The players are really looking forward to being back under the roof in front of a vocal home crowd.”
Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Rob Thompson, Tei Walden, Tevita Li, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, Dillon Hunt, Liam Squire, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Kalolo Tuiloma, Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brow.
Replacements: Liam Coltman, Aki Seiuli, Tyrel Lomax, Shannon Frizell, Elliot Dixon, Josh Renton, Josh Ioane, Richard Buckman