Highlanders spring a few surprises for Super Rugby opener against Chiefs

The Highlanders have sprung a few surprises by resting some key All Blacks for their Super Rugby opener against the Chiefs on Friday in Hamilton.

Aaron Smith has been named as the back up half back with Kayne Hammington getting the nod to start.

All Blacks flanker Liam Squire and winger Waisake Naholo will miss the match day 23 altogether.

First-five Josh Ioane has been given the go ahead to start at number 10, beating out new recruit Bryn Gatland and veteran Marty Banks.

"Yeah, Joshie [Ioane], he just backs himself, he sees a picture and just goes with it," said Highlanders co-captain Ben Smith.

"That's what we need from him on Friday night."

The Highlanders have kept the 23-year-old Ioane under wraps and away from media this week.

HIGHLANDERS: Ben Smith (co-captain), Matt Faddes, Rob Thompson, Thomas Umaga- Jensen, Tevita Li, Josh Ioane, Kayne Hammington, Luke Whitelock (co-captain), James Lentjes, Jackson Hemopo, Josh Dickson Pari Pari Parkinson, Tyrel Lomax, Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone.

RESERVES: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siate Tokolahi, Shannon Frizell, Dillon Hunt, Aaron Smith, Bryn Gatland, Patelesio Tomkinson.

CHIEFS: Shaun Stevenson, Bailyn Sullivan, Tumua Manu, Anton Lienert-Brown, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Orbyn Leger, Brad Weber, Tyler Ardron, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Michael Allardice, Brodie Retallick (c), Angus Ta'avao, Nathan Harris, Atu Moli.

RESERVES: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Aidan Ross, Nepo Laulala, Taleni Seu, Jesse Parete, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Stephen Donald, Ataata Moeakiola.


Aaron Smith has been named on the bench, with Waisake Naholo and Liam Squire missing out the match day 23. Source: 1 NEWS

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