Injured Highlanders warming up
Injured Highlanders warming upSHARE
The Highlanders will play a Southland XV at the Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday as the team builds towards its last home game of the Super Rugby season – against the Crusaders next Saturday, June 29.
The Highlanders' XV includes a number of players returning from injury, which is good news for the playing stocks heading into the final part of the season.
Four players are returning from long-term injuries: forwards Brayden Mitchell and Hugh Blake, along with backs Buxton Popoalii and Kade Poki.
Lima Sopoaga, who has had an ankle injury, will also get game time from the replacement bench.
Fijian international Simeli Koniferedi, who is set to play in the Heartland Championship for North Otago, joins the reserves.
The Southland XV includes a sprinkling of current Highlanders as well as two former charges.
Jamie Mackintosh, Josh Bekhuis, John Hardie and Elliot Dixon have all played for the Highlanders in 2013, while Jason Rutledge and David Hall have both been part of previous franchise campaigns.
Marty Mckenzie, who is contracted to the Blues and Southland, joins his NPC teammates on Friday.
Brad Thorn and Jason Rutledge will captain their respective sides.
The game will be played in two 30 minute halves, with rolling subs and with the likelihood that the reserves listed could play for either team.
Highlanders XV: 15 Tony Ensor, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Buxton Popoalii, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Frae Wilson, 8 Jake Paringatai, 7 Hugh Blake, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Brad Thorn (captain), 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 1 Bronson Murray.
Replacements – from: Liam Coltman, Brad Weber, Hosea Gear, Hayden Parker, Simeli Koniferedi, Trent Renata, Lima Sopoaga.
Southland XV: 15 Warrick Lynn, 14 Tim Cornforth, 13 Brian Milne, 12 Cardiff Vaenga, 11 Keanu Kahukura, 10 Scott Eade, 9 Sonny Rangitoheriri, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 John Hardie, 6 Campbell Smith, 5 Craig Smith, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Nic Barrett, 2 Jason Rutledge (captain), 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements – from: David Hall, JP Keon, Jose Seru, Scott McKee, Sven Penwarden, Aston Talaia, Brenton Howden, Ryan Koning, Ratu Dawai, Marty Mckenzie.
Date: Friday, June 21
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 18.00 (06.00 GMT)