Whitelock to lead Highlanders against Cheetahs
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Highlanders coach Tony Brown named a strong side to take on the hapless Cheetahs in a Super Rugby encounter in Bloemfontein on Friday.
He retained most of the pack that demolished the Stormers last week.
Joe Wheeler comes off the bench to start at lock.
Luke Whitelock moves back to No.8 and will captain the run side.
Matt Faddes comes in at fullback for the injured Ben Smith in an otherwise unchanged backline.
Ash Dixon returns from injury to play his first game of the year.
Elliot Dixon and Richard Buckman also make their way back into the 23 after a few weeks out.
Players still unavailable due to injury include Shane Christie, James Lentjes, Dan Pryor and Lima Sopoaga.
Jason Emery and Hayden Parker are out for the rest of the season.
Highlanders: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock (captain), 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Joe Wheeler, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Elliot Dixon, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Richard Buckman.
Date: Friday, May 5
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT; 05.00, Saturday, May 6 NZ time)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Willie Vos (South Africa)