Highlanders welcome back big guns for Waratahs
Cape Town - The Highlanders have welcomed back All Blacks Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Luke Whitelock among others for Saturday's Super Rugby quarter-final against the Waratahs in Sydney.
Kick-off is at 12:05 SA time.
Ash Dixon and Rob Thompson also return to the fray for the Dunedin-based side, as does loose forward Elliot Dixon who were all rested for last weekend's match against the Rebels.
This is the fifth consecutive year that the Highlanders have made the playoffs, after finishing in sixth position at the end of the round robin stage this campaign.
They are in the not unfamiliar position of being on the road having played only two playoff games at home since the inception of Super Rugby (1999 and 2015).
Coach Aaron Mauger is excited by the opportunity: “These are the opportunities the guys work hard all year for and there are no second chances. It’s simply about putting our best performance on the field on Saturday.
"The Waratahs are a quality side playing at home which presents an awesome challenge for our guys, but like I said, these are the games we love to play.”
The Highlanders lost 41-12 to the Waratahs in Sydney earlier this season
after wing Tevita Nabura received an early red card for his 'kung-fu' kick. The defeat ended New
Zealand teams’ 40-match winning streak against Australian opposition in Super
15 Israel Folau, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11
Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley (captain), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael
Wells, 7 Will Miller, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3
Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson
Substitutes: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom
Staniforth, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Cam Clark, 23 Bryce
15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Tei Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Jackson Hemopo, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ask Seiuli, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Matt Faddes