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Boost for Highlanders ahead of Blues clash

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/04/2017

All Black loose forward Liam Squire and fullback Ben Smith have returned from injury to boost the Highlanders ahead of Saturday's seventh-round Super Rugby clash against the Blues.

Coach Tony Brown has also refreshed his forward pack for what is expected to be a physical encounter in Dunedin on Saturday.

A hamstring strain kept Smith out of last week's 51-12 win over the Rebels at Forsyth Barr Stadium, while Squire returns from a four-week stint on the sidelines after a knee injury in round two.

Brown has restored Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Alex Ainley and Elliot Dixon to the starting eight, while Squire will make his impact from the bench.

"It's good to welcome Ben and Liam back because as we all know, the New Zealand derby matches are incredibly intense games - you have to be at your very best to come away with the win," Brown said.

"Being at home this time in front of our fans, on a dry track, will hopefully help us put on a big performance."

The Highlanders edged the Blues 16-12 at Eden Park in round three.

Highlanders: Ben Smith, Tevita Li, Malakai Fekitoa, Richard Buckman, Patrick Osborne, Marty Banks, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, Dillon Hunt, Elliot Dixon, Tom Franklin, Alex Ainley, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown.

Reserves: Greg Pleasants-Tate, Aki Seiuli, Siate Tokolahi, Joe Wheeler, Liam Squire, Kayne Hammington, Fletcher Smith, Matt Faddes.

Unavailable due to injury: Shane Christie, Ash Dixon, Dan Pryor, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo, Adrian Smith, James Lentjes.

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