Smith and Squire back for the Highlanders

Captain Ben Smith and loose forward Liam Squire are back for the Highlanders Super Rugby game against the Blues in Dunedin on Saturday night.

Smith was a late scratching for the Highlanders last weekend after suffering a hamstring strain during the warmups.

He had previously missed two games with concussion.

Squire has been out of action since suffering a knee injury in the second round in early March.

Preparing for what will no doubt be a physical encounter coach Tony Brown has restored Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Alex Ainley and Elliot Dixon to the starting eight.

Squire makes his return after four weeks on the sideline and will make an impact from the bench.

"It's good to welcome Ben and Liam back because as we all know the NZ derby matches are incredibly intense games , you have to be at your very best to come away with the win. Being at home this time in front of our fans, on a dry track, will hopefully help us put on a big performance." said Brown.

The Gordon Hunter Memorial trophy has been played for between the two teams since 2002. Hunter coached Otago from 1992 to1995 and the Highlanders in the inaugural year of Super Rugby in 1996. He then went on to be a selector and assistant coach of the All Blacks from 1996 to 1999 before becoming the head coach of the Blues in 2000.

The Blues are just ahead of the Highlanders on the Super Rugby table.

Highlanders team....

1. Daniel Lienert-Brown

2. Liam Coltman

3. Siosuia Halanukonuka

4. Alex Ainley

5. Tom Franklin

6. Elliot Dixon

7. Dillon Hunt

8. Luke Whitelock

9. Aaron Smith

10. Marty Banks

11. Patrick Osborne

12. Richard Buckman

13. Malakai Fekitoa

14. Tevita Li

15. Ben Smith ( c )


16. Greg Pleasants-Tate

17. Aki Seiuli

18. Siate Tokolahi

19. Joe Wheeler

20. Liam Squire

21. Kayne Hammington

22. Fletcher Smith

23. Matt Faddes

Unavailable due to injury: Shane Christie, Ash Dixon, Dan Pryor, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo, Adrian Smith, James Lentjes

Out for the season are Jason Emery and Hayden Parker.


Photo: Photosport Ben Smith