Sopoaga excited to play with hero

​This weekend will see another tale of a debut All Black teaming up with his childhood hero.

Highlanders first five Lima Sopoaga and Hurricanes lock James Broadhurst will make their first appearances in the black jersey against South Africa on Sunday morning.

Sopoaga says playing inside Ma'a Nonu has been just a dream until now.

"Y'know I grew up in the 04 looking up to Nonu, never did I imagine playing a test with him, especially at Ellis Park in the ten jumper."

Sopoaga says Highlanders coaches Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown told him to strip back his game.

"They said they needed the consistency, and they needed the flash out and the smart in. That was the big thing for me, I quite enjoy doing the fancy stuff but the fancy stuff wasn't going to get me to the next level."

He says he leaned on an experienced old head for advice.

"I roomed with Dan Carter last week and even he said he was nervous going in to the game last. He said if you're nervous it means you're alive and you want it."

James Broadhurst, meanwhile, puts his rise to the All Blacks down to simply growing up and said he had to make some changes in order to get to this point.

"If you look back probably four or five years, I was probably more worried about what happened after the game on a Saturday night than before it and during the week. I have matured and probably got those bad habits out of my system."

Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Conrad Smith all slot into the backline, while Dane Coles and Liam Messam have been given starts in the pack.