Fekitoa brings up 50 in opener

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:34
Large malakai fekitoa highlanders run 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa will start the 2017 Super Rugby season on a high note as he brings up his 50th Highlanders cap against the Chiefs in Dunedin on Friday.

Fekitoa made his debut for the franchise in 2014 against the Blues and forms part of a matchday 23 that includes five franchise debutants alongside all their available All Blacks.

Elliot Dixon is the only All Black to not get a starting role as he will make an impact off the bench.

"The recent games against the Chiefs have been cracking games and we expect nothing less this week, the guys are really looking forward to getting out in front of our home fans," new head coach Tony Brown said.

The Highlanders has a number of players who were unavailable for selection due to injury. They include: Marty Banks, Teihorangi Walden, Luke Whitelock, Shane Christie, Ash Dixon , Dan Pryor, Aki Seiuli and Greg Pleasants-Tate.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16Adrian Smith, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes.

Date: Friday, February 24
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 05 May 2017
Hurricanes v Stormers 07h35 Westpac Stadium
Cheetahs v Highlanders 17h00 Bloemfontein
Sat, 06 May 2017
Bristol v Newcastle Falcons 22h00 Ashton Gate
Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers 22h00 Sixways
Northampton Saints v Harlequins 22h00 Franklin's Gardens
Wasps v Saracens 22h00 Ricoh Arena
Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh 22h00 Scotstoun Stadium
Dragons v Cardiff Blues 22h00 Rodney Parade
Zebre v Treviso 22h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Ulster v Leinster 22h00 Kingspan Stadium
Scarlets v Ospreys 22h00 Parc y Scarlets
Munster v Connacht 22h00 Thomond Park
Gloucester v Exeter Chiefs 22h00 Kingsholm
Sale Sharks v Bath 22h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Rebels v Lions 05h00 Melbourne
Chiefs v Reds 07h35 New Plymouth
Waratahs v Blues 09h45 Allianz Park
Sharks v Force 13h05 Kings Park, Durban
Bulls v Crusaders 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Jaguares v Sunwolves 21h40 Buenos Aires
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Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 9 3 0 6 18
Waratahs 9 3 0 6 13
Reds 9 2 0 7 11
Force 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 8 1 1 6 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 9 9 0 0 41
Chiefs 9 8 0 1 37
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 9 6 0 3 28
Blues 9 4 0 5 22
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 9 6 0 3 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 9 2 0 7 10
Sunwolves 9 1 0 8 6
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 9 8 0 1 37
Sharks 9 6 1 2 28
Jaguares 9 4 0 5 20
Kings 9 3 0 6 15