Thorn comeback delayed

Thu, 21 Feb 2013 07:03
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The Highlanders will have to wait at least another week before they are able to list legendary All Black Brad Thorn on their team sheet.

The Highlanders will have to wait at least another week before they are able to list legendary All Black Brad Thorn on their team sheet in an official competition match.

The 38-year-old, who will become the oldest player to play Super Rugby when he eventually takes to the field, will miss the Highlanders' first match of the season against the Chiefs in Dunedin on Friday with a calf injury sustained in the pre-season build-up.

All Blacks Ben Smith and Ma'a Nonu have recovered from niggling injuries and will take their places at fullback and inside centre respectively.

Southland hooker Brayden Mitchell has won the race to fill in for the suspended captain Andrew Hore - who is serving out a ban resulting from his vicious attack from behind on Wales lock Bradley Davies in November last year.

Hore's suspension, which runs until February 24, has already seen him miss all three of the Highlanders' pre-season matches.

Apart from Thorn and Hore other players sidelined are Jake Paringatai (hand injury, two weeks away from a return) and Tamati Ellison (shoulder, six months).

Thorn is expected to be available next week.

Fumiaki Tanaka will become the first Japanese player to play Super Rugby if he takes the field, after countryman Shota Horie didn't get off the pine for the Rebels last weekend.

Lima Sopoaga will start at flyhalf, after beating off the challenge of Hayden Parker.

Three players will make their first run-on start for the Highlanders - All Blacks Tony Woodcock (at prop) and Nonu (in the midfield), as well as Joe Wheeler on the flank.

In the reserves Liam Coltman, Fumiaki Tanaka and Hayden Parker will all make their debut if they cut the white chalk.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Phil Burleigh, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear (captain), 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 John Hardie, 6 Joe Wheeler, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Elliot Dixon, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Hayden Parker, 22 Buxton Popoali'i.

Date: Friday, February 22
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.30 GMT)
Referee: Steve Walsh
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Kane McBride
TMO: Vinny Munro

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 23 February 2018
Highlanders v Blues 06h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Reds 08h45 Melbourne
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 19h00 Irish Independent Park
Dragons v Edinburgh 19h30 Rodney Parade
Leinster v Kings 19h35 RDS
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
France v Italy 20h00 Paris
Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Chiefs 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Stormers 08h45 Allianz Park
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Bath v Sale Sharks 12h30 Recreation Ground
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Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Sun, 25 February 2018
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
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