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Highlanders make three changes

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/07/2016
Matt Faddes of the Highlanders © Getty Images Matt Faddes of the Highlanders

In-form back Matt Faddes returns in one of three personnel changes to the Highlanders' starting 15 to face the Chiefs in a Super Rugby clash that could determine who will finish top of the New Zealand conference.

Faddes comes in at centre, with All Black Malakai Fekitoa moving to second five-eighth and Rob Thompson dropping out of the 23-strong squad for the match in Dunedin on Saturday night.

In the forwards, lock Alex Ainley and prop Dan Lienert-Brown have both got over injuries to be included in place of Joe Wheeler and Josh Hohneck.

Hohneck goes on to a bench that has a six-two split between forwards and backs, and features the addition of first-choice hooker Liam Coltman after a lengthy spell out with a foot problem.

Going into the final round of the regular season, the Chiefs sit top of the NZ conference, three points ahead of the defending champion Highlanders in third place.

While the southerners have home advantage, they are backing up from a taxing travel schedule after being in Port Elizabeth and then Buenos Aires over the past two weekends.

Highlanders: Ben Smith (capt), Waisake Naholo, Matt Faddes, Malakai Fekitoa, Patrick Osborne, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, James Lentjes, Elliot Dixon, Alex Ainley, Tom Franklin, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Ash Dixon, Dan Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Liam Coltman, Aki Seiuli, Josh Hohneck, Mark Reddish, Liam Squire, Dan Pryor, Te Aihe Toma, Fletcher Smith.

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