Thu 16 Mar 2017 | 09:10

Highlanders have a hat-trick of Smiths

Highlanders have a hat-trick of Smiths
Thu 16 Mar 2017 | 09:10
Highlanders have a hat-trick of Smiths
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Highlanders have a hat-trick of SmithsAaron Smith will start his 98th game for the Highlanders against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.

Coach Tony Brown will certainly welcome back captain Ben Smith for his 122nd the game.

In contrast, Fletcher Smith will play just his third game for the franchise – coming in at flyhalf for the injured Lima Sopoaga.

"Fletcher has trained well and showed some good form in pre-season," Brown said.

"He is a young player with a lot of potential and we back him to do the job for the team on Saturday," the coach added.

Young Otago openside flank Dillon Hunt, who debuted off the bench last week, will get his chance to start – as Elliot Dixon shifts to blindside and Gareth Evans moves to the bench.

Joe Wheeler will start in place of the injured Alex Ainley and the versatile Richard Buckman moves to the right wing to replace the injured Waisake Naholo.

Matt Faddes comes into the reserves as the Highlanders go with a conventional five forwards three backs combination this week.

Those unavailable due to injury include Liam Squire, Shane Christie, Ash Dixon, Dan Pryor, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo, Alex Ainley, Adrian Smith, Josh Dickson, James Lentjes, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Patrick Osborne.

Jason Emery and Hayden Parker have been sidelined for the rest of the season.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Joe Wheeler, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Sekonia Pole, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Matt Faddes.

Date: Saturday, March 18
Venue: Westpact Stadium, Welington
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Richard Kelly (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)

PV: 2
Highlanders Have A Hat-trick Of Smiths | Rugby365