Dixon comes in for injured Squire
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: After a strong performance against the Crusaders Elliot Dixon will get his first start for the Highlanders in 2018 in the No 6 jersey for the clash against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.
Dixon, who came from the bench and scored a try last week, will combine with 2017 All Blacks, Luke Whitelock and Dillon Hunt, to form the loose forward trio and replaces the injured Liam Squire.
With Dixon’s elevation to the starting XV, Hawkes Bay and NZ Under-20 loose forward, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, who joined the Highlanders' earlier in the year as injury cover for James Lentjes, will get the opportunity to play for his second Highlanders' cap from the bench.
Up front, Tyrell Lomax, also gets his first start in the Highlanders jersey at tighthead prop after a few cameos in the early rounds.
Young Otago pivot, Josh Ioane, has been named on the bench and will play his debut game for the Highlanders should he take the field.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Tei Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Marino Mikaele Tu'u, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Matt Faddes.
Date: Saturday, March 24
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Richard Kelly (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)