Smith returns to partner Sopoaga
The return of Jackson Hemopo and Dillon Hunt to the pack, Patelesio Tomkinsons selection in the midfield and Aaron Smith back at scrumhalf are the main features of the Highlanders team to take on the Waratahs on Saturday.
Hemopo replaces veteran lock Alex Ainley and the hard-working Dillon Hunt returns for James Lentjes. In the backs, Aaron Smith takes the place of the well performed Kayne Hammington, and Tevita Li is back from injury and will take a spot on the bench.
Patelesio Tomkinson gets his first starting opportunity in the midfield with Teihorangi Walden sitting the game out after experiencing concussion symptoms during the week.
A former NZ Under-20 player, Tomkinson, is a hard-hitting young midfielder from Otago who has had limited opportunities since joining the team last season.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Tevita Nabura, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Marino Mikaele Tuu, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Tevita Li.
Date: Saturday, May 19
Venue: Allianz Park, Sydney
Kick-off: 19.45 (9.45 GMT, 21.45 New Zealand time)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: William Houston (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
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