Highlanders, Aaron Smith and Ben Smith, have been named in the starting XV to take on the Springboks in Wellington.  

The All Blacks team to play South Africa in the highly-anticipated Investec Rugby Championship match in Wellington this weekend has been named.

The All Blacks will play South Africa for the first time this year at Westpac Stadium on Saturday 13 September (kick-off: 7.35PM NZT live on SKY TV).
The team is (with Test caps in brackets):

Starting XV:
1. Wyatt Crockett (30)
2. Dane Coles (21)
3. Owen Franks (60)
4. Brodie Retallick (30)
5. Jeremy Thrush (6)
6. Steven Luatua (12)
7. Richie McCaw (c) (130)
8. Kieran Read (65)
9. Aaron Smith (32)
10. Aaron Cruden (34)
11. Julian Savea (25)
12. Ma'a Nonu (93)
13. Conrad Smith (79)
14. Ben Smith (32)
15. Israel Dagg (40)

Reserves:
16. Keven Mealamu (116)
17. Joe Moody (2)
18. Ben Franks (34)
19. Patrick Tuipulotu (2)
20. Sam Cane (17)
21. TJ Perenara (6)
22. Beauden Barrett (22)
23. Cory Jane (50)

The changes to the team which beat Argentina on the weekend are mainly injury-related, with Jeremy Thrush coming in at lock and Steven Luatua at blindside flanker for the injured Sam Whitelock and Liam Messam respectively, with Patrick Tuipulotu on the bench.

Meanwhile, Aaron Cruden has recovered from his chest injury to take his place in the number 10 jersey, with Beauden Barrett moving to the bench. Cory Jane also comes into the match day squad as outside back cover.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "This week we have to find a desperation and hunger in our performance because we know that that is something the South Africans will be bringing after their loss to Australia. As well they have already stated they have a desire to get a win against us."

"After two wonderful matches last year, I know our guys are really looking forward to this match. We have the utmost respect for South Africa and looking forward to Saturday night."

Several players will reach personal milestones this weekend.

All Blacks prop Owen Franks will become the third most capped All Blacks prop of all time: he has played 60 Tests and is currently equal with Craig Dowd, with Greg Somerville second on 66 and Tony Woodcock out in front on 110 Tests.

Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu will equal the record for a midfield partnership this weekend when they play their 55th Test together. Smith will also play his 80th Test this weekend, overtaking Ian Jones to become the 10th most capped All Black of all time. Nonu, who will play his 94th Test this weekend, is the sixth most capped All Black.

Meanwhile, Aaron Cruden heads into the weekend on 99 points scored in the Investec Rugby Championship.

The All Blacks and South Africa have played each other 87 times, with 50 wins to the All Blacks, 34 to the Springboks and three draws. The last two matches between the two sides in last year's Investec Rugby Championship saw the All Blacks win 29-15 in Auckland and the epic Johannesburg Test 38-27.

The Investec Rugby Championship - All Blacks Tests
1. Australia, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Saturday 16 August. All Blacks 12 Australia 12
2. Australia, Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday 23 August. All Blacks 51 Australia 20
3. Argentina, McLean Park, Napier, Saturday 6 September. All Blacks 28 Argentina 9 4. South Africa (Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 7.35PM, Saturday 13 September)
5. Argentina (Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, 7.10PM, Sat 27 September)
6. South Africa (Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 5.05PM, Saturday 4 October)


For further information contact:

Joe Locke
All Blacks Media Manager
M: +64 (0)27 441 8461
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Juli Clausen
Senior Media Advisor
D: +64 (0)4 474 7276
M: +64 (0)27 570 70 45
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

After much speculation in the media the Highlanders are happy to announce today that Aaron Smith has re-signed with the Highlanders for two more years through to the end of the Super Rugby season in 2016.

Smith said “I love living and playing rugby in Dunedin, it’s my home and I couldn’t think of a better place to be. I love the team and can’t wait to get back out on the field in front of our home fans in 2015”.  Smith has been in outstanding form all year and is considered by many to be one of the best halfbacks in the world today and played an important part in helping the Highlanders get into the play-offs for the first time in 12 years. 

Highlanders General Manager, Roger Clark, commented, “there has been a lot of speculation over the past weeks regarding Aaron’s future.  I want to emphasise that Aaron has been fully committed to the Highlanders from the beginning of our negotiations and did not considered another Super Rugby Team at any stage. The reason the NZR and Highlanders’ announcements of Aaron recommitting didn’t coincide was due purely to the process the Highlanders needed to go through internally for sign off. It is great to be able to officially confirm Aaron will be a Highlander for the two years, we have made great progress as a team this past season and as a senior player Aaron is vital to the continuation of that success.

Check out the link to see Aaron Smith announcing his re-signing; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wYYIC1pOjw

End.

 

Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to take on the Sharks in Durban on Saturday night (3.05am Sunday 20th July NZT) in the Investec Super Rugby playoffs. This will be the Highlanders’ second visit to the shark tank for 2014 and the team will be hoping to produce another stellar performance like the round 11 match-up that saw the Highlanders’ win 34-18.

Co-Captain, Ben Smith, returns to the starting line-up after illness saw him miss the final regular season clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend. There are two changes to the forward pack; Ged Robinson to start at number 2 and Jarrad Hoeata at 4 (Hoeata travelled from Dunedin on Sunday to join the team in Auckland before they flew out to Sydney) which sees Tom Franklin move to the bench. In the backline Lima Sopoaga has been recalled to the playmaker position of first-five and will be partnering with Phil Burleigh at second-five. Trent Renata moves back to the bench as utility cover.

The Highlanders have had a tough road to the play-offs after playing the top two teams in the competition in consecutive weeks on the road but are feeling good and looking forward to their first play-off game since 2002.

Sharks v Highlanders, Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban – Saturday 19th July, 5.05pm local time (3.05am NZT, 1.05am AEST)
1 - Kane Hames
2 - Ged Robinson
3 - Chris King
4 - Jarrad Hoeata
5 - Joe Wheeler
6 - Elliot Dixon
7 - Shane Christie
8 - Nasi Manu (Co-Captain)
9 - Aaron Smith
10 - Lima Sopoaga
11 - Patrick Osborne
12 - Phil Burleigh
13 - Malakai Fekitoa
14 - Richard Buckman
15 - Ben Smith (Co-Captain)

Reserves
16 - Liam Coltman
17 - Matias Diaz
18 - JP Koen
19 - Josh Bekhuis
20 - Tom Franklin
21 - Fumiaki Tanaka
22 - Trent Renata
23 - Gareth Evans

Head Coach – Jamie Joseph Assistant Coaches – Tony Brown and Scott McLeod Skills Coach – Jon Preston
Manager – Graham Purvis

Any post match media requests need to be sent to Amanda (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by 4pm Friday 18th July.
End.

For further information contact: Amanda Gould 021 223 8440.

Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to take on the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday night (7.35pm NZT). There are four changes to the team that started against the Waratahs in Sydney last week. Unfortunately Co-Captain Ben Smith will not be in the playing 23 as he continues to recover from a leg infection that saw him hospitalised for three days following last weekend’s game. This will be the first Highlanders game Smith has missed since April 2012.

The front row has two changes with Liam Coltman rejoining the starting XV as hooker and Chris King coming back onto the tighthead side of the scrum. Hayden Parker will start in the playmaker position of first five, Trent Renata replaces Smith at fullback and Gareth Evans rounds out the bench as loosie cover.

As they enter the final round of the regular season the Highlanders are still in the hunt for a play-off and a win against the Crusaders would help solidify that position.

Crusaders v Highlanders, AMI Stadium, Christchurch – Saturday 12th July, 7.35pm (NZT)
1 - Kane Hames
2 - Liam Coltman
3 - Chris King
4 - Tom Franklin
5 - Joe Wheeler
6 - Elliot Dixon
7 - Shane Christie
8 - Nasi Manu (Captain)
9 - Aaron Smith
10 - Hayden Parker
11 - Patrick Osborne
12 - Shaun Treeby
13 - Malakai Fekitoa
14 - Richard Buckman
15 - Trent Renata

Reserves
16 - Ged Robinson
17 - Matias Diaz
18 - JP Koen
19 - Josh Bekhuis
20 - Gareth Evans
21 - Fumiaki Tanaka
22 - Lima Sopoaga
23 - Phil Burleigh

Head Coach – Jamie Joseph |Assistant Coaches – Tony Brown and Scott McLeod| Skills Coach – Jon Preston
Manager – Graham Purvis

Injury update: Kurt Baker – hamstring (season), Craig Millar – shoulder (season), Buxton Popoalii – heart (season), Brad Thorn – bicep (season), Frae Wilson – knee (season), John Hardie – knee (season), Ma’afu Fia illness (TBC) and Ben Smith – leg infection (1 week).

End. 

Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to take on the current Investec Super Rugby leaders, the Waratahs, at home in Sydney on Sunday afternoon (4.05pm AT, 6.05pm NZT). The team is unchanged from the side that won against the Chiefs (29-25) in an exhilarating game at Forsyth Barr Stadium last Friday.

With only two games to go in the regular season the Highlanders currently sit fourth overall on the SANZAR table with the same points as the Crusaders in third (42).

Head Coach, Jamie Joseph commented that “we are not too concerned with how we have gone against the Waratahs in the past and our entire focus is on what we can do on Sunday. There is a real air of excitement about the group, they sense the opportunity we have earned for ourselves”.

Highlanders v Waratahs, Allianz Stadium, Sydney– Sunday 6th July, 4.05pm local time (6.05pm NZT)

1 - Kane Hames
2 - Brayden Mitchell
3 - Ma’afu Fia
4 - Tom Franklin
5 - Joe Wheeler
6 - Elliot Dixon
7 - Shane Christie
8 - Nasi Manu (co-captain)
9 - Aaron Smith
10 - Lima Sopoaga
11 - Patrick Osborne
12 - Shaun Treeby
13 - Malakai Fekitoa
14 - Richard Buckman
15 - Ben Smith (co-captain)

Reserves
16 – Ged Robinson
17 – Matias Diaz
18 – Chris King
19 – Josh Bekhuis
20 – Lee Allan
21 – Fumiaki Tanaka
22 – Hayden Parker
23 – Phil Burleigh

Head Coach – Jamie Joseph

Assistant Coaches – Tony Brown and Scott McLeod  

Skills Coach – Jon Preston

Manager – Graham Purvis

Injury update: Kurt Baker – hamstring (season), Craig Millar – shoulder (season), Buxton Popoalii – heart (season), Brad Thorn – bicep (season), Frae Wilson – knee (season) and John Hardie – knee (season).

End.