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Highlanders blood halfbacks against Kings

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/06/2016
Bay of Plenty's Te Aihe Toma © Getty Images Bay of Plenty's Te Aihe Toma

Bay of Plenty halfback Te Aihe Toma will make his Super Rugby debut when he runs out for the Highlanders against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.

With All Black Aaron Smith rested and Japan international Fumiaki Tanaka out with a shoulder injury, Toma's back-up on the bench will be another newcomer in Manawatu's Jamie Booth.

Smith is one of five All Blacks, along with Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa and Elliot Dixon, who haven't made the trip to South Africa.

The quintet will join the Highlanders squad ahead of their next match against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

Two other Test players, first five-eighth Lima Sopoaga and loose forward Liam Squire, who came off the bench in the third Test against Wales last weekend, are with the tour party.

Sopoaga and Squire have been included among the reserves for the match against the Kings on Sunday morning (NZT).

Joining the pair is wing Patrick Osborne, who has returned from international duty with Fiji.

The match will be Mark Reddish's 50th in Super Rugby and the former Hurricanes lock's 19th for the Highlanders.

The Highlanders are sitting in the fifth and last play-off spot in the Australian group, while the the Kings are near the bottom of the South African group, with just two wins from 12 matches.

Highlanders: Matt Faddes, Jack Wilson, Jason Emery, Rob Thompson, Ryan Tongia, Marty Banks, Te Aihe Toma, Luke Whitelock, Shane Christie (capt), Gareth Evans, Tom Franklin, Mark Reddish, Josh Hohneck, Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Greg Pleasants-Tate, Aki Seiuli, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Liam Squire, Dan Pryor, Jamie Booth, Lima Sopoaga, Patrick Osborne.

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