Highlanders go with tried and tested
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Highlanders head coach Tony Brown had a near full roster to choose from when he selected his team for their Super Rugby quarterfinal against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
Brown has gone with a tried and tested combination that has performed well in the back half of the competition.
Ben and Aaron Smith return to the backline that features Richard Buckman on the left wing and the hard running Rob Thompson in the midfield.
Brown has also elected to go with a six forwards two backs split on the reserves bench perhaps anticipating an intense forward battle.
"It's going to be an epic encounter, playing the NZ conference winners at home, obviously an extremely tough assignment against an experienced and well-performed team. However, our guys are very excited by the challenge they face," said Brown.
The team will once again be co-captained by Ben Smith and Ash Dixon.
The winner can look forward to playing a semifinal game against the Chiefs or Stormers while the losers will be spectators for the rest of the competition.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Richard Buckman, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 19 Alex Ainley, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Elliot Dixon, 22 Kayne Hammington, 23 Marty Banks.
Date: Saturday, July 22
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)