Pulse Energy Highlanders Head Coach has made just three changes to his starting line-up for their match against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night. He welcomes back Patrick Osborne from injury, gives young Otago back Sio Tomkinson his first start in a Highlanders jersey and the hard working Alex Ainley returns to the engine room.

On the bench Greg Pleasants-Tate joins Siosuia Halanukonuka returning from injury. “It’s good to get Pat,Greg and Siua back  as it’s going to be a real test for the team this week. The Brumbies in Canberra is one of the toughest challenges in rugby and history tells us we don’t perform that well there so we will need to be on our game” said Brown.

While Tomkinson will be playing his first match Aaron Smith will be playing his 99th and look set to bring up his 100th next week against the Rebels.

Pulse Energy Highlanders v Brumbies - 7.45pm (9.45pm NZT), Saturday 25th March, GIO Stadium, Canberra

    1. Daniel Lienert-Brown
    2. Liam Coltman
    3. Siate Tokolahi
    4. Alex Ainley
    5. Tom Franklin
    6. Elliot Dixon
    7. Dillon Hunt
    8. Luke Whitelock
    9. Aaron Smith
    10. Fletcher Smith
    11. Patrick Osborne
    12. Richard Buckman
    13. Malakai Fekitoa
    14. Patelesio Tomkinson
    15. Ben Smith ( c )

 

RESERVES

    1. Greg Pleasants-Tate
    2. Aki Seiuli
    3. Siosuia Halanukonuka
    4. Joe Wheeler
    5. Gareth Evans
    6. Kayne Hammington
    7. Marty Banks
    8. Matt Faddes

 

Unavailable due to injury: Liam Squire, Shane Christie, Ash Dixon, Dan Pryor, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo,  Adrian Smith, Josh Dickson, James Lentjes,

(Out for the season: Jason Emery, Hayden Parker)

END 

 The name Smith features three times on the team sheet for the Pulse Energy Highlanders this week. Aaron will start his 98th game for the Highlanders while Head Coach will certainly welcome back captain Ben Smith for his 122nd  game, in contrast Fletcher Smith will play just his 3rd game for the club at first five.

“Fletcher has trained well and showed some good form preseason he’s a young player with a lot of potential and we back him to the job for the team on Saturday”said Brown.

Young Otago openside Dillon Hunt who debuted off the bench last week will get his chance to start as Elliot Dixon shifts to blindside and Gareth Evans moves to the bench. Joe Wheeler will start in place of the injured Alex Ainley and the versatile Richard Buckman moves to the right wing to replace the injured Waisake Naholo. Matt Faddes comes into the reserves as the Highlanders go with a conventional 5 forwards 3 backs combination this week.

This round of the Investec Super rugby celebrates that rugby is a game for everyone. The players will wear coloured laces representing that rugby is a game for all New Zealanders no matter who they are, what they look like, their beliefs or abilities. Head Coach Tony Brown said “We fully support the initiative; we absolutely need to play our part in showing that we embrace diversity. I believe rugby is a game for everyone regardless of shape, size, nationality, gender or whatever”.

 

Pulse Energy Highlanders v Hurricanes - 7.35pm, Saturday 18th March, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

  1. Daniel Lienert-Brown
  2. Liam Coltman
  3. Siate Tokolahi
  4. Joe Wheeler
  5. Tom Franklin
  6. Elliot Dixon
  7. Dillon Hunt
  8. Luke Whitelock
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Fletcher Smith
  11. Tevita Li
  12. Rob Thompson
  13. Malakai Fekitoa
  14. Richard Buckman
  15. Ben Smith ( c )
  16. Sekonia Pole
  17. Aki Seiuli
  18. Guy Millar
  19. Jackson Hemopo
  20. Gareth Evans
  21. Kayne Hammington
  22. Marty Banks
  23. Matt Faddes

Unavailable due to injury: Liam Squire, Shane Christie, Ash Dixon, Dan Pryor, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo, Alex Ainley, Adrian Smith, Josh Dickson, James Lentjes, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Patrick Osborne

(Out for the season: Jason Emery, Hayden Parker)

END 

Luke Whitelock and Marty Banks return from injury to take on the Blues in Auckland this weekend. However Liam Squire and James Lentjes are both out injured giving Gareth Evans, who entered the game a few minutes into last week’s clash, a start at Number 6. Elliot Dixon will again captain the side this time from openside flanker and Whitelock will complete the new look back row at 8.

Pulse Energy Highlanders Head Coach, Tony Brown, has named a forward-heavy bench with six in the reserves including Aki Seiuli at prop and locks, Jackson Hemopo and Joe Wheeler. Dillon Hunt will cover the loose forwards and make his Super Rugby debut should he take the field. Kayne Hammington and Marty Banks will provide the back cover from the bench.

The match will mark 50 games for the Highlanders for Highlander #197 Joe Wheeler. Wheeler made his debut in 2013.

Pulse Energy Highlanders v Blues - 7.35pm Saturday 11th March, Eden Park, Auckland

  1. Daniel Lienert-Brown
  2. Liam Coltman
  3. Siosuia Halanukonuka
  4. Alex Ainley
  5. Tom Franklin
  6. Gareth Evans
  7. Elliot Dixon ( C )
  8. Luke Whitelock
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Lima Sopoaga
  11. Tevita Li
  12. Rob Thompson
  13. Malakai Fekitoa
  14. Waisake Naholo
  15. Richard Buckman

Reserves

  1. Sekonia Pole
  2. Aki Seiuli
  3. Siate Tokolahi
  4. Joe Wheeler
  5. Jackson Hemopo
  6. Dillon Hunt
  7. Kayne Hammington
  8. Marty Banks

Unavailable due to injury: Liam Squire, Shane Christie, Ash Dixon , Dan Pryor, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Ben Smith, Adrian Smith, Josh Dickson, James Lentjes

Out for season: Jason Emery, Hayden Parker

END 

 

Jason Emery

*Getty Images

The Pulse Energy Highlanders have lost their second player for the season with Jason Emery rupturing his achilles playing for the Highlanders Braveheart’s against the Crusader Knights in the curtain raiser to Saturday night’s match.

Emery will miss the entire years’ action as he rehabs the injury post-surgery. Emery will join Hayden Parker on the side lines for 2017 and continues a bad run of injuries for the Southern based club.

“I really feel for Jason, he has looked very sharp through preseason and was looking to make it a big year. I know he is a positive guy and he will work hard to come back from this and get back to fitness for 2018,” said Head Coach, Tony Brown.

Currently without senior players Ben Smith, Ash Dixon, Dan Pryor, Shane Christie, Luke Whitelock and Marty Banks head coach Tony Brown was remaining positive “unfortunately injuries are part of the game and while we are having our depth tested currently, we have faith in the resilience and talent within our squad. On the up side hopefully our few of our senior players will be back soon”.

The Highlanders will play the Blues at Eden Park this Saturday at 7.35pm

Ends

The Pulse Energy Highlanders will have a new captain and welcome back two experienced players for the big Southern derby game against the Crusaders on SaturdayBen Smith is sidelined this week which means his All Black team mate Elliot Dixon will captain the side. Dixon, Highlander #194, has played 64 games for the Highlanders since debuting in 2012.“Elliot is an experienced campaigner who always gives 100% effort and will lead the team by example, I know he’s pretty excited about the opportunity to skipper the side” said Head Coach Tony Brown.

In other changes, Richard Buckman will replace Ben Smith at fullback having returned from the Japan League a few weeks ago with Joe Wheeler. Wheeler will make his first appearance in 2017 from the bench. Siosuia Halanukonuka will start at tighthead with Siate Tokolahi moving to the bench and Patrick Osborne takes Matt Faddes’ place in the 23.

As a curtain raiser to the main event at the stadium the Highlander Bravehearts Development XV will play their Southern counterparts the Crusader Knights at 5pm (gates open at 4.45pm)

2017 Instagram template team naming5

Pulse Energy Highlanders v Crusaders, Sat 4th Mar 7.35pm, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

  1. Daniel Lienert-Brown
  2. Liam Coltman
  3. Siosuia Halanukonuka
  4. Alex Ainley
  5. Tom Franklin
  6. Elliot Dixon ( c )
  7. James Lentjes
  8. Liam Squire
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Lima Sopoaga
  11. Tevita Li
  12. Rob Thompson
  13. Malakai Fekitoa
  14. Waisake Naholo
  15. Richard Buckman

Reserves

  1. Adrian Smith
  2. Craig Millar
  3. Siate Tokolahi
  4. Joe Wheeler
  5. Gareth Evans
  6. Kayne Hammington
  7. Fletcher Smith
  8. Patrick Osborne

Unavailable due to injury: Marty Banks, Luke Whitelock, Shane Christie, Ash Dixon , Dan Pryor, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Ben Smith

END