Highlanders name team for Lions

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The Highlanders will field a strong side against the British & Irish Lions despite seven players being unavailable on national duties for the All Blacks.

All Blacks Liam Coltman, Lima Sopoaga and Waisake Naholo have all been made available for this historic match.

The forwards are virtually unchanged from the starting pack that took on the Crusaders with only Jackson Hemopo and Dillon Hunt added.

In the backs Teihorangi Walden gets a rare start with Richard Buckman shifting to full-back due to the unavailability of regular full-backs Ben Smith and Matt Faddes.

All Black Lima Sopoaga will play at 10 shifting Marty Banks to the bench and Kayne Hammington will make just his second start of the season at scrum-half.

On the bench a Highlanders debut looms for lock Josh Dickson and an opportunity for local boy Josh Renton to play at scrum-half in front of his home crowd.

Highlanders Head Coach Scott McLeod knows the match will be a big occasion “for some of these guys this will be the biggest rugby day of their careers, and it is a special moment in any rugby player’s life to play against the Lions. It’s going to be a massive occasion for the club and our supporters”.

Highlanders: 15 Richard Buckman, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Luke Whitelock (c), 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Jackson Hemopo, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Jimmy Lentjes, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Patrick Osborne

Date: Tuesday, June 13
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-Off: 19:35pm local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gauzère, Mathieu Raynal
TMO: Marius Jonker