Whitelock blow for Highlanders as Stormers await
SUPER RUGBY TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Highlanders will be without two key forwards when they take on the Stormers in Dunedin on Friday.
Star loose forwards Elliot Dixon and Luke Whitelock have both been sidelined with injuries ahead of this Round 10 encounter.
Dixon remains unavailable this week, after being hospitalised with a leg infection.
He was joined on the sideline by Whitelock, who has been displaying concussion symptoms since the 40-15 win over the Sunwolves last week.
He will be rested until he is cleared.
Dixon was set to start on the openside flank for the Highlanders against the Sunwolves in Invercargill last Saturday.
However, he woke up in a lot of pain overnight on the Thursday and ended up being taken to the hospital.
Highlanders coach Tony Brown said the target was to have Dixon available for their trip to South Africa.
"He woke up with an infection in his leg," Brown said.
"We are just trying to get that under control.
"He will be on antibiotics all week and hopefully we can get him right to get on the plane to South Africa."
* Meanwhile Siosuia Halanukonuka, Tom Franklin and Gareth Evans return to the starting line-up.
Joe Wheeler is joined by Jackson Hemopo on the bench, giving the Highlanders plenty of size to match the always physical South Africans.
Rob Thompson returns to the midfield in place of an injured Richard Buckman and Patrick Osborne will return on the left wing to play his 50th Super rugby game for the Highlanders.
There is plenty of firepower to come off the bench with exciting Otago backs Fletcher Smith and Matt Faddes.
Apart from Whitelock and Dixon, other players not available due to injury include Shane Christie, James Lentjes, Dan Pryor, Lima Sopoaga and Richard Buckman.
Jason Emery and Hayden Parker are sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes.
Date: Friday, April 28
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (09.35 SA time; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)