Three All Blacks in Highlanders team to face British and Irish Lions
Last Updated: 11/06/17 1:25pm
The Highlanders have named three All Blacks in their team to face the British and Irish Lions in Dunedin on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 8am.
Despite seven players being unavailable due to New Zealand and Maori All Blacks commitments, hooker Liam Coltman, fly-half Lima Sopoaga and winger Waisake Naholo were all included in coach Tony Brown's starting side.
After a slow start to the tour, the Lions came to life with a 12-3 victory over the Super Rugby-leading Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday and will be looking to build on that win as they head towards the three Tests against the All Blacks.
The Highlanders may only be ranked fourth of the five New Zealand franchises in this year's tournament but the 2015 Super Rugby champions have won 10 of their 14 matches and are assured of at least a playoff berth.
The Lions beat a provincial Otago side 30-19 the last time they toured New Zealand in 2005 and Highlanders assistant coach Scott McLeod is anticipating another big occasion at the compact yet noisy Forsyth Barr Stadium.
"For some of these guys this will be the biggest rugby day of their careers, and it is a special moment in any rugby player's life to play against the Lions," he said.
"It's going to be a massive occasion for the club and our supporters."
The forwards are a strong suit for the Highlanders, who will field a virtually unchanged starting pack from the side edged 25-22 by the Crusaders in their last Super Rugby match on June 3, with only Jackson Hemopo and Dillon Hunt added.
In the backs, Teihorangi Walden gets a rare start with Richard Buckman shifting to full-back due to the unavailability of Ben Smith and Matt Faddes.
Sopoaga has been handed the start at fly-half which shifts Marty Banks to the bench and Kayne Hammington will make just his second start of the season at scrum-half.
Highlanders: 15 Richard Buckman, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington; 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2 Liam Coltman, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 4 Alex Ainley, 5 Jack Hemopo, 6 Gareth Evans, 7 Dillon Hunt, 8 Luke Whitelock (c).
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 James Lentjes, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Patrick Osborne.