Highlanders rest All Blacks for Brumbies match

Highlanders head coach Jamie Joseph has made six changes to his Super Rugby side for this weekend’s match against the Brumbies in Canberra.

Joseph has rested all three of his All Blacks – Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa – to fulfil the obligation to rest their All Blacks for at least two games this season.

Added to that a mounting injury list including seven forwards unavailable for this fixture means that the Highlanders’ depth will certainly be put to the test in Canberra.

Pingi Tala’apitaga earns a start with Josh Hohneck moving to the bench. Tom Franklin returns to the starting team for the injured Mark Reddish.

In the backs Trent Renata will make his 2015 debut at fullback while, Japanese international, Fumiaki Tanaka replaces Aaron Smith at halfback.

Shaun Treeby and Richard Buckman will combine for the first time in the midfield. Gareth Evans returns to the playing 23 on the reserves bench that features a 6:2 split with lock Joe Latta and halfback Josh Renton poised to make their Super Rugby debuts.

Shane Christie (hamstring), Ross Geldenhuys (thumb), Daniel Lienert-Brown (knee), John Hardie (ankle), Hayden Parker (shoulder), Alex Ainley (jaw), Mark Reddish (ankle) were all unavailable for selection due to injury.

Both teams’ jerseys will feature poppies in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli and Anzac Day.

Highlanders

1. Kane Hames , 2. Liam Coltman , 3. Pingi Tala’apitaga , 4. Tom Franklin , 5. Joe Wheeler , 6. Elliot Dixon , 7. James Lentjes , 8. Nasi Manu (C) , 9. Fumiaki Tanaka , 10. Lima Sopoaga , 11. Patrick Osborne , 12. Shaun Treeby , 13. Richard Buckman , 14. Waisake Naholo , 15. Trent Renata

Replacements : 16. Ash Dixon , 17. Brendon Edmonds , 18. Josh Hohneck , 19. Joe Latta , 20. Gareth Evans , 21. Dan Pryor , 22. Josh Renton , 23. Jason Emery

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