Highlanders named for Blues

Getty Images     20 Apr 2012     Getty Images

He has made two changes to the run-on team that played the Stormers in Dunedin at Easter.

Mike Delany will start at first-five ahead of Chris Noakes who moves to the reserves bench.

Ben Smith has not recovered from the knock he received in the Stormers match, so Tamati Ellison will start at fullback and Phil Burleigh comes back into the starting XV at centre.

Lock Josh Bekhuis will also reach the milestone of 50 games when he takes the field tomorrow night.

The match takes on additional significance as both teams are playing for the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy – the Blues currently hold the Trophy.

Highlanders: Tamati Ellison, Kade Poki, Phil Burleigh, Shaun Treeby, Hosea Gear, Mike Delany, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu, James Haskell, Adam Thomson, Jarrad Hoeata, Josh Bekhuis, Chris King, Andrew Hore, Jamie Mackintosh (capt). Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Ma'afu Fia, Doug Tietjens, Culum Retallick, Jimmy Cowan, Chris Noakes, Kurt Baker.

Note – Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy

The match is for the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy, which honours one of the characters of Otago rugby who was also in the unique position of having coached both the Highlanders and the Blues.

Otago under Hunter’s tutelage in the first half of the 1990s was regarded as one of the most exciting teams in New Zealand and had talent that graced the All Blacks, including men such as Jeff Wilson, Josh Kronfeld and Taine Randell.

Hunter, who also played for Otago, was coach of Otago from 1992 until 1995 and was then the coach of the Highlanders in the first year of Super Rugby.

He then advanced to join the New Zealand selection panel, his first year producing the first win by the All Blacks in a test series in South Africa.

At the end of Hunter’s tenure with the All Blacks in 1999, he took over as coach of the Blues, continuing in that role until ill health forced his retirement.

Throughout his coaching career Hunter combined his passion for rugby with his profession as a detective.

He died in 2001.