Super Rugby

Smith and Whitelock return for Highlanders

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Highlanders Super rugby head coach Aaron Mauger has named a team with minimal changes for this weekend’s match against the Blues in Dunedin for the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy.

All Black, Jackson Hemopo, returns at lock to partner Tom Franklin and Patelesio Tomkinson takes the place of Rob Thompson (unavailable for family reasons this week).

However, the return of Aaron Smith and Luke Whitelock gives the reserves a very strong look.

Smith who injured his ankle in the round six game, ironically against the Blues, was originally scheduled to be out for 4-6 weeks but has missed just two games during his speedy recovery.

“Nuggy and Luke have both worked incredibly hard to make themselves available and their return this week provides the team with a bit of a boost. We are aware of the challenges the Blues will bring on Saturday, all the NZ conference games bring a high degree of intensity” said Head Coach, Aaron Mauger.

The Highlanders have retained the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy since 2012, the trophy is only contestable when the game is being played at the home ground of the previous year’s winner.

Unavailable due to injury: Liam Squire (knee), Marty Banks (foot), Waisake Naholo (knee)

T.Nabura & R.Buckman out for season

Highlanders

Daniel Lienert-Brown, Liam Coltman, Tyrel Lomax, Jackson Hemopo, Tom Franklin, Shannon Frizell, James Lentjes, Elliot Dixon, Kayne Hammington, Josh Ioane, Tevita Li, Teihorangi Walden, Patelesio Tomkinson, Matt Faddes, Ben Smith (CC)

Replacments : Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone, Siate Tokolahi, Josh Dickson, Luke Whitelock (CC), Aaron Smith, Bryn Gatland, Thomas Umaga-Jensen

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