Smith returns to partner Sopoaga

Thu, 17 May 2018 08:24
Large aaron smith and rob thompson highlanders v blues 2018 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger has made a few changes to his team for their trip to Sydney to face the Waratahs.

The return of Jackson Hemopo and Dillon Hunt to the pack, Patelesio Tomkinsons selection in the midfield and Aaron Smith back at scrumhalf are the main features of the Highlanders team to take on the Waratahs on Saturday.

Hemopo replaces veteran lock Alex Ainley and the hard-working Dillon Hunt returns for James Lentjes. In the backs, Aaron Smith takes the place of the well performed Kayne Hammington, and Tevita Li is back from injury and will take a spot on the bench.

Patelesio Tomkinson gets his first starting opportunity in the midfield with Teihorangi Walden sitting the game out after experiencing concussion symptoms during the week. 

A former NZ Under-20 player, Tomkinson, is a hard-hitting young midfielder from Otago who has had limited opportunities since joining the team last season.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Tevita Nabura, 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 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Marino Mikaele Tuu, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Tevita Li.

Date: Saturday, May 19
Venue: Allianz Park, Sydney
Kick-off: 19.45 (9.45 GMT, 21.45 New Zealand time)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: William Houston (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

In other news: 

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Fri, 25 May 2018
Rebels v Sunwolves 09h45 Melbourne
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sat, 26 May 2018
Chiefs v Waratahs 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Highlanders 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Bulls v Brumbies 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens 14h00 London
Stormers v Lions 15h15 Newlands
Leinster v Scarlets 17h00 Dublin
Fri, 01 June 2018
Highlanders v Hurricanes 07h35 Dunedin
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Rebels 11 5 0 6 25
Reds 11 4 0 7 18
Brumbies 11 3 0 8 16
Sunwolves 11 0 9 10
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 13 11 0 2 50
Hurricanes 12 10 0 2 45
Highlanders 11 7 0 4 32
Chiefs 11 7 0 4 32
Blues 12 3 0 9 17
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Team P W D L Pts
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Jaguares 12 7 0 5 29
Sharks 12 5 1 6 28
Bulls 12 5 0 7 24
Stormers 13 5 0 8 23