SUPER RUGBY Preview : Highlanders v Hurricanes

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The Highlanders have made three changes to their starting XV for their home game against the Hurricanes on Saturday. 

Brendon Edmonds was the first-choice loosehead last season and returns as Daniel Lienert-Brown goes to the bench.

Number eight Liam Squire was injured in the first 40 minutes in their opening round clash with the Blues and will play off the bench.

Luke Whitelock will make his Highlanders debut starting at eight in his 51st Super Rugby match.

Speedster Matt Faddes will start on the wing in the absence of injured Waisake Naholo, with full-back Jason Emery making his 28th appearance for the side if he gets game time.

Prop Siosiua Halanukonuka will get a chance to take to the field for the first time for the Highlanders.

Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has named an unchanged starting side to play the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday in an early season replay of last year’s Super Rugby final.

A week after losing heavily to the Brumbies in Canberra, Boyd has shown faith in his players by making just one confirmed change to his match day 23.

Utility back James Marshall returns to the squad after missing the first round due to the arrival of his first child.

Nehe Milner-Skudder has been replaced by Marshall at full-back after falling heavily on his leg during the opening round with Jason Woodward coming into the reserves.

After a week of self-reflection, Boyd said the Hurricanes were keen to put their flat opening night performance in the rear view mirror.

“We didn’t start the season how we intended to and I know the boys are hurting,” he said.

“They’ll be going out to put in a performance they’re proud of. We’re up against last year’s champions on their home ground, so it should be a great occasion.”

Last time the two clubs played each other was in the 2015 Super Rugby final with the Highlanders winning a thrilling match at Westpac Stadium 21-14.

The sides played each other twice during the 2015 regular season with the Hurricanes winning on both occasions, 20-13 in Dunedin, and 56-20 in Napier.

Both teams have suffered injury blows in the lead up to Saturday’s match with Hurricanes scrum-half TJ Perenara continuing to lead his side in the absence of season captain Dane Coles, whose tight calf has again delayed his first appearance of the year.

The Highlanders will be without wing Waisake Naholo, who suffered a fracture in his leg during his side’s first up loss to the Blues at Eden Park in round one.

Previous Results :

4 Jul 2015 Hurricanes 14 – 21 Highlanders 2015 Grand Final
05 Jun 2015 Hurricanes 56 – 20 Highlanders
20 Mar 2015 Highlanders 13 – 20 Hurricanes
16 May 2014 Hurricanes 16 – 18 Highlanders
21 Mar 2014 Highlanders 35 – 31 Hurricanes
06 Jul 2013 Hurricanes 44 – 49 Highlanders
15 Mar 2013 Highlanders 19 – 23 Hurricanes
12 May 2012 Highlanders 20 – 26 Hurricanes
17 Mar 2012 Hurricanes 17 – 19 Highlanders
13 May 2011 Highlanders 13 – 06 Hurricanes
18 Feb 2011 Hurricanes 09 – 14 Highlanders
24 Apr 2010 Highlanders 31 – 33 Hurricanes

The Teams :

HIGHLANDERS: 15: Ben Smith (co-cap) 14: Matt Faddes 13: Malakai Fekitoa 12: Teihorangi Walden 11: Patrick Osborne 10: Lima Sopoaga 9: Aaron Smith 8: Luke Whitelock 7: Shane Christie (co-cap) 6: Elliott Dixon 5: Joe Wheeler 4: Tom Franklin 3: Josh Hohneck 2: Liam Coltman 1: Brendon Edmonds
Reserves: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siosiua Halanukonuka, Liam Squire, Dan Pryor, Josh Renton, Hayden Parker, Jason Emery

HURRICANES: 15 James Marshall 14: Cory Jane 13: Vince Aso 12: Ngani Laumape 11: Julian Savea 10: Beauden Barrett 9: TJ Perenara (c) 8: Victor Vito 7: Ardie Savea 6: Brad Shields 5: Mark Abbott 4: Blade Thomson 3: Jeff Toomaga-Allen 2: Leni Apisai 1: Reggie Goodes
Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Loni Uhila, Vaea Fifita, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson-Park, Jason Woodward, Willis Halaholo.

Date: Saturday, March 5
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Referees: Jamie Nutbrown, Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Chris Wratt


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