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Highlanders steel for Lions challenge

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/07/2016

Coach Jamie Joseph has reshuffled his forward pack for the Highlanders' Super Rugby semi-final against the Lions in Johannesburg on early on Sunday (NZT).

Joseph has brought in loose forward James Lentjes for Shane Christie while lock Alex Ainley replaces Luke Whitelock, who moves to No.8.

The Highlanders will be without prop Siosuia Halanukonuka, ruled out after damaging ankle ligaments last week.

The starting backline from the quarter-final win against the Brumbies remains intact, with the talented back three of Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and Patrick Osborne likely to see a lot of ball in Johannesburg.

The Highlanders will employ a six-forward, two-back bench for this week, with hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate, prop Ross Geldenhuys and lock Joe Wheeler added to the squad.

In the backs the versatile Marty Banks makes his return from hamstring injury to take his place on the bench.

Highlanders: Ben Smith (captain), Waisake Naholo, Matt Faddes, Malakai Fekitoa, Patrick Osborne, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, James Lentjes, Elliot Dixon, Tom Franklin, Alex Ainley, Josh Hohneck, Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown.

Reserves: Greg Pleasants-Tate, Aki Seiuli, Ross Geldenhuys, Joe Wheeler, Liam Squire, Dan Pryor, Te Aihe Toma, Marty Banks.

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