Highlanders v Sharks - Super Rugby match preview
The Highlanders have made four changes for Saturday's Super Rugby clash against the Sharks at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Last Updated: 03/05/13 4:39am
The Highlanders have lost all eight of their matches so far this season, although their were promising signs in the defeat to the Crusaders last tim out.
Head coach Jamie Joseph has opted to freshen up his back division with Colin Slade starting at fly-half, Shaun Treeby and Tamati Ellison teaming up in the midfield and Phil Burleigh named on the wing.
With no changes to the pack former All Blacks lock Brad Thorn will make his 100th Super Rugby appearance.
Thorn played 92 for the Crusaders, while he has appeared seven times for the Highlanders since joining in the off-season.
Sharks captain Keegan Daniel returns to action for the visit to Dunedin.
Daniel and Marcell Coetzee return to the back-row as part of six changes following the defeat to the Chiefs.
Franco van der Merwe and Kyle Cooper also come into the side for the benched Anton Bresler and Craig Burden.
JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo are named on the wings, with Odwa Ndungane and Piet Lindeque included among the replacements.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Phil Burleigh, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 1 Tony Woodcock, 2 Andrew Hore (capt), 3 Chris King, 4 Brad Thorn, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 7 John Hardie, 8 TJ Ioane
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 Elliot Dixon, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Fumiaka Tanaka, 21 Hayden Parker, 22 Jason Emery
Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Frans Steyn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (capt), 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pieter Steph du Toit, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Wiehahn Herbst.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Piet Lindeque, 22 Odwa Ndungane / Derick Minnie.
What they said...
Highlanders head coach Jamie Joseph
"Brad is a great player who brings a work ethic like no other. He's a natural leader within our environment, and he has added a massive amount to our leadership group this season."
Sharks head coach John Plumtree
"We took a step up in the try-scoring department against the Chiefs when we scored four tries against the current champions and we're hoping we can continue that this week against the Highlanders.
"The Highlanders had a bye on the weekend and got an opportunity to refresh, they'll be tough, they have players out injured so they've had some problems.
"We know how tough they're going to be, they will become spoilers in this competition, knock sides out and we will have to make sure we play really well. Defence is a part of it because they have some great attacking players, so we'll still want to step up in that department."