Only three changes to the starting team for this week’s first home game of the 2016 season against the Hurricanes. Brendon Edmonds who was the starting loosehead last season returns at the expense of Daniel Lienert-Brown who goes to the bench. Number Eight Liam Squire who made a big impression in the first half against the Blues will make his impact from the bench this week. Luke Whitelock takes his place at the back of the scrum in his 51st super rugby game and debut for the Highlanders.

The withdrawal of Waisake Naholo due to injury provides local boy Matt Faddes with a real chance to stake a claim for the vacant wing berth. Faddes showed glimpses of his blistering pace late in the Blues match and will no doubt be looking forward to more opportunities in his starting debut.

Rounding out the 23, Tasman prop Siosiua Halanukonuka, gets his first opportunity with the Highlanders. Jason Emery covers the outside backs and will make his 28th appearance if he makes the field on Saturday.

Pulse Energy Highlanders v Hurricanes, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Sat Mar 5th 7.35pm

1. Brendon Edmonds
2. Liam Coltman
3. Josh Hohneck
4. Tom Franklin
5. Joe Wheeler
6. Elliot Dixon
7. Shane Christie ( cc)
8. Luke Whitelock
9. Aaron Smith
10. Lima Sopoaga
11. Patrick Osborne
12. Teihorangi Walden
13. Malakai Fekitoa
14. Matt Faddes
15. Ben Smith ( cc )

16. Ash Dixon
17. Daniel Lienert-Brown
18. Siosiua Halanukonuka
19. Liam Squire
20. Dan Pryor
21. Josh Renton
22. Hayden Parker
23. Jason Emery

Unavailable due to injury: Waisake Naholo (leg), Marty Banks (knee) Fumiaki Tanaka (calf)

Head Coach: Jamie Joseph

Assistant Coaches: Tony Brown, Scott McLeod

Team Manager: Paul McLaughlan


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