Highlanders name 7 debutants to face Crusaders

The Highlanders have named their team to play in their Super Rugby season opening match against the Crusaders at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

While the other 14 Super Rugby franchises started their Super Rugby seasons last week the Highlanders sat out as they had a bye.

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has named a team with as many as seven players making their debuts including Josh Hohneck, Ross Geldenhuys and Waisake Naholo in the starting lineup.

Overall though Joseph has selected from a near fully fit squad with just Shane Christie (hamstring) ,Richard Buckman (knee)and Pingi Tala’apitaga (knee) unavailable due to injury.

The new look team will be co-captained by Nasi Manu and Ben Smith who both continue on from last year.

All Black Aaron Smith continues his partnership with Lima Sopoaga, Patrick Osborne, Malakai Fekitoa and Ben Smith resuming their familiar roles in the Highlanders backline.

Highlanders

1. Josh Hohneck , 2. Liam Coltman , 3. Ross Geldenhuys , 4. Tom Franklin , 5. Joe Wheeler , 6. Elliot Dixon , 7. John Hardie , 8. Nasi Manu ( c ) , 9. Aaron Smith , 10. Lima Sopoaga , 11. Patrick Osborne , 12. Shaun Treeby , 13. Malakai Fekitoa , 14. Waisake Naholo , 15. Ben Smith ( c )

Replacements : 16. Ash Dixon , 17. Kane Hames , 18. Ma’afu Fia , 19. Mark Reddish , 20. Dan Pryor , 21. Fumiaki Tanaka , 22. Jason Emery , 23. Marty Banks

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