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Backline stars return for Highlanders
ESPN Staff
February 11, 2014
The Highlanders' Aaron Smith celebrates his try, Hurricanes v Highlanders, Super Rugby, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, July 6, 2013
Aaron Smith was rested for the Highlanders' trial against the Crusaders © Getty Images
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Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has named his starting XV to play the New South Wales Waratahs at Hunter Stadium, Newcastle, on Friday, February 14.

The Highlanders will be looking to show more of the form they displayed in the second half of their 28-15 loss to the Crusaders in Motueka last Friday.

All Blacks Aaron Smith and Ben Smith will return to their starting positions after being rested, while Shane Christie comes back after injury to take his place at No 8 in his first start for the Highlanders. Lima Sopoaga starts at fly-half while Kane Hames and Ged Robinson take their places in the front row.

Buxton Popoalii has withdrawn from the 2014 Super Rugby season and will be receiving surgery in the next couple of weeks for a long-standing heart condition. A replacement player has not yet been called into the squad.

The Highlanders play their first match of the Super Rugby season against the Blues in Dunedin at on Saturday February 22.

Highlanders: Ben Smith (captain); Patrick Osborne, Malakai Fekitoa, Shaun Treeby, Kurt Baker; Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Shane Christie, John Hardie, Gareth Evans; Josh Bekhuis, Jarrad Hoeata; Chris King, Ged Robinson, Kane Hames. Replacements: Brayden Mitchell, Matias Diaz, Craig Millar, Joe Wheeler, Tom Franklin, TJ Ioane, Lee Allan, Frae Wilson, Hayden Parker, Phil Burleigh, Winston Stanley and Richard Buckman.

Injury Update: Nasi Manu (pectoral: 1 week), TJ Ioane (AC sprain: 1 week), Elliot Dixon (hamstring: 1-2 weeks), Liam Coltman (rib: 1 week).

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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