Woodcock, Nonu, Thorn and Smith into Highlanders starting XV

Getty Images     08 Feb 2013     Getty Images

This is the second pre-season game for both New Zealand franchises.

There are a number of changes from the team that played the Chiefs in Taupo last weekend;

All Blacks Tony Woodcock, Ma’a Nonu and Aaron Smith join the starting XV.

In the forwards, Brayden Mitchell will start at hooker and Jarrad Hoeata moves to lock alongside

Brad Thorn and Joe Wheeler switches from lock to blindside flanker. John Hardie also makes a return to rugby after a long injury break.

In the backs Aaron Smith, Ma’a Nonu & Kade Poki will all make a start for the Highlanders for first time in 2013.

Highlanders v Crusaders, Whitestone Contracting Stadium, Oamaru – Friday 8 February, 4.30pm (NZ Time).

1. Tony Woodcock
2. Brayden Mitchell
3. Ma’afu Fia
4. Brad Thorn
5. Jarrad Hoeata
6. Joe Wheeler
7. John Hardie
8. Elliot Dixon
9. Aaron Smith
10. Lima Sopoaga
11. Hosea Gear (c)
12. Ma’a Nonu
13. Phil Burleigh
14. Kade Poki
15. Buxton Popoalii


Backs: Jason Emery, Hayden Parker, Fumiaki Tanaka, Shaun Treeby & Frae Wilson.
Forwards: Hugh Blake, Liam Coltman, Tom Franklin, Paul Grant, Jamie Mackintosh & Bronson Murray.

Injury Update

Jake Paringatai (hand – 4 weeks), Colin Slade (leg recovery 2012 – 2-3 weeks), Nasi Manu (hamstring – 1-2 weeks), Tamati Ellison (shoulder – 6 months) & Chris King (shoulder – 1 weeks).