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Dixon steps up to captain Highlanders

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/03/2017
Elliot Dixon at the All Blacks training camp. © Getty Images Elliot Dixon at the All Blacks training camp.

All Blacks loose forward Elliott Dixon will captain the Highlanders for their Super Rugby southern derby against the Crusaders in Dunedin on Saturday.

Dixon replaces Ben Smith, sidelined with concussion in last week's 24-15 opening loss to the Chiefs.

Coach Tony Brown expects Dixon, who has played 64 games for the Highlanders since his 2012 debut, to lead from the front.

"Elliot is an experienced campaigner who always gives 100 per cent and will lead the team by example.

"I know he's pretty excited about the opportunity to skipper the side," Brown said.

Richard Buckman, recently returned from the Japan League, will slot in at fullback in Smith's absence, while Joe Wheeler will make his first appearance of 2017 from the bench.

Siosuia Halanukonuka will start at tighthead, with Siate Tokolahi moving to the bench and Patrick Osborne taking Matt Faddes' place in the match-day 23.

Highlanders: Richard Buckman, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Rob Thompson, Tevita Li, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Liam Squire, James Lentjes, Elliot Dixon (captain), Tom Franklin, Alex Ainley, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Liam Coltoman, Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Adrian Smith, Craig Millar, Siate Tokolahi, Joe Wheeler, Gareth Evans, Kayne Hammington, Fletcher Smith, Patrick Osborne.

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