Hurricanes v Pulse Energy Highlanders - Westpac Stadium, Dunedin, Friday 27th May 7.35pm

Returning from their bye round Pulse Energy Highlanders Head Coach Jamie Joseph has made only two changes to his starting line-up that beat the Crusaders in round 12. Tom Franklin will start at lock for Joe Wheeler who drops out of the 23 for this week and Daniel Lienert-Brown, who was a late withdrawal for the Crusaders match, will start at loosehead.

Luke Whitelock had a standout game against the Crusaders and again keeps the in-form Liam Squire on the bench, while Mark Reddish is included in the match day team for the first time since round 7. The game will be massive for both sides as they are separated by a single point on the table, both clubs will be desperate to head into the June break with a win.

NZ rugby has designated round 13 as the “diversity round” . NZ Super Rugby teams will wear a range of brightly coloured laces to highlight diversity in rugby. It is a symbolic gesture to illustrate rugby is a game for everyone, no matter what size, shape, nationality, religion or gender. Joseph commented “our team is particularly diverse, I think we have at least six different nationalities in our squad, all with different backgrounds and cultures but it’s our love of the game that binds us together. That’s the beauty of rugby, it doesn’t discriminate, it’s come one, come all”

1.   Daniel Lienert-Brown

2.   Ash Dixon

3.   Josh Hohneck

4.   Alex Ainley

5.   Tom Franklin

6.   Elliot Dixon

7.   Dan Pryor

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. Siosiua Halanukonuka

19. Mark Reddish

20. Liam Squire

21. Fumiaki Tanaka

22. Marty Banks

23. Teihorangi Walden

Unavailable due to injury: Liam Coltman (foot), Josh Renton (knee) Shane Christie (hamstring)

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

Highlanders v Lions 0029

Photo Credit: Chris Sullivan - Seen in Dunedin

Pulse Energy Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne has re-committed to with the club for the 2017 season. The exciting wing has played 47 games for the Highlanders since his debut in 2014 and has formed a lethal partnership with fellow Fijian Waisake Naholo. Osborne will play for Japanese club Kubota Spears later this year before returning to Dunedin for the 2017 Investec Super Rugby season. He has made himself available for the Fijian national team in the June international window.

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said “Clearly we are delighted the Pat has committed to the team again, he very much represents who we are, and how we want to play as a club. He has been a great ambassador for rugby in New Zealand, has inspired many young Highlanders and Canterbury fans and we fully support his pursuit of an international career.”

Having formerly played for the Crusaders and Chiefs Osborne has enjoyed his time in the deep South. “My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Dunedin, in the Highlanders’ environment and are happy to recommit for 2017.”

Osborne said his decision to sign in Japan and play for Fiji was about family and the pride of playing for his country “I have been honoured to spend time in the All Black’s environment but am very proud of where I come from and have decided to commit myself to the Fijian team it’s an exciting new challenge that my family and I are looking forward to.”

End

Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has been able to select a largely unchanged line-up for the battle of the mainland after coming through last week’s win against the Chiefs with no new injuries. There is just one change to the starting team that took the field in Hamilton last Saturday night, Joe Wheeler will start at lock in his 50th match for the club after debuting in 2013 against the Chiefs. Tom Franklin moves to the bench and the hard running, Liam Squire, comes into the reserves after recovering from his hip injury received against the Brumbies. Loosehead prop, Craig Millar, comes back into the playing 23 for his Otago teammate, Aki Seiuli.

Continuity in the backs with the midfield pairing of Malakai Fekitoa and Matt Faddes starting for the second week running and the exciting back three of Ben Smith, Pat Osborne and Waisake Naholo. The game will be played in front of a near capacity crowd of 23,000 is expected to be the match to watch this round and if history is any indication we can expect another epic encounter. The game will be preceded by the annual halls of residence match Knox College vs Selwyn College at 5pm, this match is expected to played in front of a few thousand parochial student supporters in the zoo.

Pulse Energy Highlanders v Crusaders - Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, Friday 13th May 7.35pm

1.   Daniel Lienert-Brown

2.   Ash Dixon

3.   Josh Hohneck

4.   Alex Ainley

5.   Joe Wheeler

6.   Elliot Dixon

7.   Dan Pryor

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. Craig Millar

18. Siosiua Halanukonuka

19. Tom Franklin

20. Liam Squire

21. Fumiaki Tanaka

22. Marty Banks

23. Teihorangi Walden

Unavailable due to injury: Liam Coltman (foot), Josh Renton (knee) Shane Christie (hamstring)

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

END

Waisake Naholo returns from injury after being out with a broken leg since the round one match against the Blues. After a three try performance in club rugby last weekend the explosive winger returns to reunite one of the most exciting back threes in the game. His much anticipated return and a concussion injury to Rob Thompson forces head coach, Jamie Joseph, to reshuffle his backline. Utility back, Matt Faddes, will get his first start at centre after previously playing on the wing and at fullback and Malakai Fekitoa moves to second-five. The timely return of Marty Banks from injury sees him take the place of an unlucky Hayden Parker who sustained a season ending knee injury at training last week.

In the forwards, co-captain Shane Christie will be side-lined for a few weeks with a hamstring injury. He is replaced at open side by Dan Pryor, Luke Whitelock returns at eight with James Lentjes making his first appearance for the season on the bench this week. The versatile Gareth Evans rounds out the loose forwards in the reserves while Otago loose head prop Aki Seiuli gets an opportunity to make hi Highlanders debut having come into the squad for the injured Brendon Edmonds.

Chiefs v Pulse Energy Highlanders, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, Sat 7th May 7.35pm

1.   Daniel Lienert-Brown

2.   Ash Dixon

3.   Josh Hohneck

4.   Alex Ainley

5.   Tom Franklin

6.   Elliot Dixon

7.   Dan Pryor

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. Siosiua Halanukonuka

19. James Lentjes

20. Gareth Evans

21. Fumiaki Tanaka

22. Marty Banks

23. Teihorangi Walden

 

Unavailable due to injury: Liam Coltman (foot), Rob Thompson (concussion), Hayden Parker (knee),

Liam Squire (hip)

 

 

A toe injury to Liam Coltman and the suspension of Jason Emery has forced changes to the Pulse Energy Highlanders team to take on the Brumbies in Invercargill on Saturday night. Coltman looks set to be sidelined for several weeks and Emery will sit out the next four weeks. Ash Dixon comes in for Coltman and the strong running Rob Thompson returns to the midfield. Alex Ainley is the only other change to the forward pack with Joe Wheeler rotating to the bench.

Patrick Osborne returns at left wing and Jack Wilson shifts on to the right wing while Matt Faddes will make his impact from the bench.  Hooker, Greg Pleasants-Tate, who has played one game for the Blues will make his debut for the Highlanders if he takes the field on Saturday night. Pleasants-Tate has been playing development and club rugby in Dunedin and will relish the opportunity to get more super rugby game time. Siosiua Halanukonuka returns to the bench after a week off.

1.   Daniel Lienert-Brown

2.   Ash Dixon

3.   Josh Hohneck

4.   Alex Ainley

5.   Tom Franklin

6.   Elliot Dixon

7.   Shane Christie (CC)

8.   Liam Squire

9.   Aaron Smith

10. Lima Sopoaga

11. Patrick Osborne

12. Rob Thompson

13. Malakai Fekitoa

14. Jack Wilson

15. Ben Smith (CC)

 

Reserves

16. Greg Pleasants-Tate

17. Craig Millar

18. Siosiua Halanukonuka

19. Joe Wheeler

20. Dan Pryor

21. Fumiaki Tanaka

22. Hayden Parker

23. Matt Faddes

Unavailable due to injury: Marty Banks (ribs), Liam Coltman (foot)

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