Super Rugby: Highlanders rest stars against Rebels

  • 12/07/2018
Smith won't play against the Rebels.
Smith won't play against the Rebels. Photo credit: Photosport

The Melbourne Rebels have received a leg-up for their crucial Super Rugby final round clash, with the Highlanders resting a host of first-choice players.

All Blacks backs Ben and Aaron Smith have been omitted for Saturday's match in Dunedin, along with in-form centre Rob Thompson.

Loose forwards Luke Whitelock and Dillon Hunt are missing from their regular starting pack, along with lock Tom Franklin.

With the Highlanders guaranteed a finals spot, coach Aaron Mauger has handed a Super Rugby debut to centre Thomas Umaga-Jensen, while it is the first start for fullback Josh Ioane.

The changes won't displease the eighth-placed Rebels, who need to win to guarantee a spot in the eight-team finals series.

It is less desperate for the Highlanders.

They will realistically finish ranked sixth or seventh overall, resulting in a quarter-final away to the NSW Waratahs, Lions or Jaguares, depending on other results.

A notable figure in the starting side is five-eighth Lima Sopoaga, who may be playing his final home game before taking up a contract with English club Wasps.

In eight seasons and 88 Super Rugby games, Sopoaga has scored 825 points to be 11th on the all-time list.

The 27-year-old All Black wants to go out a winner at the indoor venue which he described as "an unreal place to play Super Rugby".

Highlanders: 1-Aki Seuili, 2-Liam Coltman, 3-Tyrel Lomax, 4-Alex Ainley, 5-Jackson Hemopo, 6-Shannon Frizell, 7-James Lentjes, 8-Liam Squire, 9-Kayne Hammington, 10-Lima Sopoaga, 11-Tevita Li, 12-Teihorangi Walden, 13-Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 14- Waisake Naholo, 15-Josh Ioane.

Reserves: 16-Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17-Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18-Kalolo Tuiloma, 19-Tom Franklin, 20-Dillon Hunt, 21-Josh Renton, 22-Matt Faddes, 23-Josh McKay

AAP 

Join us at 5.15pm Saturday for live updates of the Highlanders vs Rebels Super Rugby clash.