Fullback Smith back for Highlanders
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Ben Smith, co-captain of the Highlanders, returns after a three-week break for injury to play his record equalling 127th game for the Highlanders against the Waratahs.
Smith stands beside former Highlanders captain Anton Oliver as the team's most capped player. Also returning from injury is No.8 Luke Whitelock meaning a shift for Elliot Dixon to the blindside while Aki Seiuli and Siate Tokolahi retain the starting spots in the front row.
Waisake Naholo returns on the right wing, replacing Patrick Osborne, after serving his one-game suspension last week. The bench has an experienced look to it with regular starters Ash Dixon, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Joe Wheeler, Lima Sopoaga and Rob Thompson all included.
Head coach Tony Brown is delighted to be back home after three weeks on the road.
"It's always good to be home under the roof in front of our home fans, especially after being away for so long. I know the players are all really looking forward to the challenge against a Waratahs side that includes so many Wallaby players, it should be a good contest," said Brown.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Rob Thompson.
Date: Saturday, May 27
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (17.35 AEST; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: James Doleman (New Zealand), Cam Stone (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)