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    Highlanders welcome back Smith

    2017-03-16 08:10

    Wellington - Highlanders fullback Ben Smith returns from a concussion to face the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.

    Aaron Smith will start his 98th game for the Highlanders while head coach Tony Brown while Fletcher Smith will play just his third game for the club at first five.

    "Fletcher has trained well and showed some good form preseason he’s a young player with a lot of potential and we back him to the job for the team on Saturday" said Brown.

    Young Otago openside 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.

    This round of Super rugby celebrates that rugby is a game for everyone. The players will wear coloured laces representing that rugby is a game for all New Zealanders no matter who they are, what they look like, their beliefs or abilities.

    Brown said: "We fully support the initiative; we absolutely need to play our part in showing that we embrace diversity. I believe rugby is a game for everyone regardless of shape, size, nationality, gender or whatever."

    Teams

    Hurricanes

    15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Vince Aso, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles(captain), 1 Chris Eves

    Substitutes: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Ben May, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Wes Goosen

    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

    Substitutes:16 Sekonia Pole, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Matt Faddes

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
    • Sunwolves v Brumbies, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 06:15
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15

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