The Pulse Energy Highlanders will enter the Lion’s den on Saturday afternoon knowing that if they can contain the top South African side, a third ever Investec Super Rugby Final beckons. The Lions who easily despatched the Crusaders last week have lain in waiting as the travelling Highlanders moved camps from Canberra to Johannesburg earlier in the week. The game will be the Highlanders first daytime match of the season and the 3pm kick off (1am Sunday NZT) should ensure the match is played in excellent conditions. Both teams have shown a desire to move the ball throughout the season and the game is shaping up as a classic encounter.

Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has made a few changes to his starting forward pack bringing in loose forward, James Lentjes, for Shane Christie and lock, Alex Ainley, replaces Luke Whitelock who moves to number eight. The starting backline from the quarter final win against the Brumbies remains intact with the talented back three of Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and Patrick Osborne likely to see a lot of ball during the match.

The Highlanders will employ a six forward, two back bench for this week, with hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate, prop Ross Geldenhuys and lock Joe Wheeler added to the squad. In the backs the versatile Marty Banks makes his return from injury to take his place on the bench.

Lions v Pulse Energy Highlanders – 3.00pm, Saturday 30th  July, Emirates Stadium, Johannesburg (SAT) (1.00am Sunday 31st July NZT)

1.   Daniel Lienert-Brown

2.   Ash Dixon

3.   Josh Hohneck

4.   Alex Ainley

5.   Tom Franklin

6.   Elliot Dixon

7.   James Lentjes

8.   Luke Whitelock

9.   Aaron Smith

10. Lima Sopoaga

11. Patrick Osborne

12. Malakai Fekitoa

13. Matt Faddes

14. Waisake Naholo

15. Ben Smith ( C )

 

Reserves

16. Greg Pleasants-Tate

17. Aki Seiuli

18. Ross Geldenhuys

19. Joe Wheeler

20. Liam Squire

21. Dan Pryor

22. Te Aihe Toma

23. Marty Banks

 

Head Coach: Jamie Joseph Assistant Coaches: Tony Brown, Scott McLeod Manager: Paul McLaughlan

Unavailable due to injury: Siosuia Halanukonuka

END

After finishing fifth on the table at the end of the regular season the Pulse Energy Highlanders will take on the Australian Conference winners and sole remaining Australian team the Brumbies in the quarter finals this Friday night.

The starting team has just two personnel changes with No.8 Liam Squire gaining a start after impressing from the bench last week, meaning a shift for the versatile Luke Whitelock to lock. After recovering from illness co-captain Shane Christie is back on the side of the scrum replacing James Lentjes, Christie has missed the last two matches but has been passed fit to play and will make his 11th appearance for the season. Prop Josh Hohneck and hooker Ash Dixon will celebrate their 50th Super Rugby game.

Head Coach Jamie Joseph has returned to the more conventional 5/3 split on the bench with Rob Thompson coming in as the extra back and lock Alex Ainley missing out on the playing 23 this week.

 

Brumbies v Pulse Energy Highlanders - GIO Stadium, Canberra, Fri 22 July 6.00pm (AEST) 8.00pm (NZT)

1.   Daniel Lienert-Brown

2.   Ash Dixon

3.   Josh Hohneck

4.   Tom Franklin

5.   Luke Whitelock

6.   Elliot Dixon

7.   Shane Christie ( cc )

8.   Liam Squire

9.   Aaron Smith

10. Lima Sopoaga

11. Patrick Osborne

12. Malakai Fekitoa

13. Matt Faddes

14. Waisake Naholo

15. Ben Smith ( cc )

 

Reserves

16. Liam Coltman

17. Aki Seiuli

18. Siosiua Halanukonuka

19. Mark Reddish

20. Dan Pryor

21. Te Aihe Toma

22. Fletcher Smith

23. Rob Thompson

 

Head Coach: Jamie Joseph Assistant Coaches: Tony Brown, Scott McLeod Manager: Paul McLaughlan

Unavailable due to injury: Marty Banks

 

END

Seven All Blacks and a 50th game milestone are the significant features of the team named by Head Coach Jamie Joseph. Returning to the team are All Blacks Elliot Dixon, Aaron and Ben Smith, Malakai Fekitoa and Waisake Naholo. Patrick Osborne will play his 50th Super rugby game.

Apart from Dixon, Joseph has bought in Joe Wheeler, Siosuia Halanukonuka and James Lentjes to freshen the forward pack for what is expected to be a tough forward battle against a Pumas laden Jaguares.

“The Jaguares forwards were very good against the Bulls in wet conditions last week so we are anticipating a big game up front” said Joseph.

Aaron Smith will be a welcome return at halfback and will have a key role in directing the team around the field while Captain Ben Smith will be a threat to the Jaguares defence from the back. The return of Fekitoa and Naholo will provide plenty of speed and power to the Highlanders out wide.

Jaguares v Pulse Energy Highlanders ,Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Buenos Aires, Sat 8th July 6.40pm

1.   Josh Hohneck

2.   Ash Dixon

3.   Siosuia Halanukonuka

4.   Tom Franklin

5.   Joe Wheeler

6.   Elliot Dixon

7.   James Lentjes

8.   Luke Whitelock

9.   Aaron Smith

10. Lima Sopoaga

11. Patrick Osborne

12. Rob Thompson

13. Malakai Fekitoa

14. Waisake Naholo

15. Ben Smith (C)

 

Reserves

16. Greg Pleasants-Tate

17. Aki Seiuli

18. Ross Geldenhuys

19. Mark Reddish

20. Dan Pryor

21. Te Aihe Toma

22. Fletcher Smith

23. Matt Faddes

 Head Coach: Jamie Joseph Assistant Coaches: Tony Brown, Scott McLeod Manager: Paul McLaughlan

Unavailable due to injury: Liam Coltman (foot), Alex Ainley (calf),Daniel Lienert-Brown (Leg),Liam Squire (concussion), Shane Christie

END

Mark Reddish will play his 50th Super Rugby game on Saturday night. The former Hurricanes player will start at lock against the Kings and will be playing his 19th match for the Pulse Energy Highlanders. Playing their first match for the Highlanders will be the two halfbacks Te Aihe Toma and Jamie Booth. Toma will start the game and Booth is expected to make his debut from the bench.

Mobile loose forward Gareth Evans will start at blindside flanker and he will be accompanied in the loose by Captain Shane Christie and Luke Whitelock. Liam Squire who debuted successfully for the All Blacks in Dunedin last week is on the bench, as Coach Joseph stays with the forward group that played well against the Crusaders in a warm up game during the June break.

Ryan Tongia gets his second start of the 2016 season at left wing while Jack Wilson and Matt Faddes complete the back three.  Patrick Osborne who has just returned from his international duties with Fiji will make his impact from the reserves. The halves combination of Te Aihe Toma and Marty Banks will have the responsibility of driving the team around the field in just their second game together, however Lima Sopoaga will provide excellent backup from the bench.

Southern Kings v Pulse Energy Highlanders, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, Sat 2rd July 7.10pm

1.   Daniel Lienert-Brown

2.   Ash Dixon

3.   Josh Hohneck

4.   Mark Reddish

5.   Tom Franklin

6.   Gareth Evans

7.   Shane Christie (C)

8.   Luke Whitelock

9.   Te Aihe Toma

10. Marty Banks

11. Ryan Tongia

12. Rob Thompson

13. Jason Emery

14. Jack Wilson

15. Matt Faddes

Reserves

16. Greg Pleasants-Tate

17. Aki Seiuli

18. Siosuia Halanukonuka

19. Liam Squire

20. Dan Pryor

21. Jamie Booth

22. Lima Sopoaga

23. Patrick Osborne

 Head Coach: Jamie Joseph Assistant Coaches: Tony Brown, Scott McLeod Manager: Paul McLaughlan

Unavailable due to injury: Liam Coltman (foot), Alex Ainley (calf)

END

Exciting Blues Winger Tevita Li will link with the Pulse Energy Highlanders from 2017. In a move that mirrors former Blues players Malakai Fekitoa and Waisake Naholo, Li will move south looking for an opportunity to move his career forward.

“Obviously I will always be grateful to the Blues for giving me start in Super Rugby. I have absolutely enjoyed my time with the Blues, however I am at stage right now where I think a move to a different club will provide me the kick start I need to move my rugby to another level. It was a difficult decision and one that I took a lot of time over. Moving out of my home town, down to Dunedin, will present me with some new challenges as a person and take me out of my comfort zone a little bit. It will definitely challenge me to be a better player” Li said.

Li made his debut for the Blues in 2014 at the age of just 19 and made a further 16 appearances that year. In the same year he was a member of the NZU20 team and in 2015 won a world cup championship. During the 2015 tournament Li scored a hat-trick against France becoming the highest try-scorer in tournament history. This year he has been the starting left winger for the Blues and has scored four tries.

Highlanders head coach in waiting Tony Brown was excited by the prospect of Li heading south. “Tevita is an exciting young player with a great deal of potential, we are delighted to have recruited him to the Highlanders. I think he will fit in well down here and complement the skills we already have in our outside backs. We are looking forward to working with him next year.”

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said ‘fair to say three or four years ago players like Tevita may not have considered the Highlanders, but these days players carefully weigh up all their options and look to take the opportunity that best suits them at a particular stage in their career. Clearly the decision to shift clubs is never taken lightly but we have seen how well it has worked for some players in recent seasons. We are confident the shift will work well for Tevita and provide him with opportunities he is looking for to further his rugby career.”

For further information contact Greg O’Brien  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   021384784