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Injured Whitelock out of Highlanders side

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/05/2017

His unavailability comes after fellow loose forward Liam Squire broke a thumb early in the team's dramatic 45-41 win over the Cheetahs last weekend. © Dianne Manson/Getty Images His unavailability comes after fellow loose forward Liam Squire broke a thumb early in the team's dramatic 45-41 win over the Cheetahs last weekend. Luke Whitelock has been forced out of the Highlanders' Super Rugby clash with the Bulls after picking up a training injury.

His unavailability comes after fellow loose forward Liam Squire broke a thumb early in the team's dramatic 45-41 win over the Cheetahs last weekend.

In Whitelock's absence, the versatile Gareth Evans will wear the No.8 jersey in Pretoria on Sunday morning in one six changes to the Highlanders' starting 15.

Squire's replacement is Elliot Dixon, who is promoted from the bench, while Alex Ainley earns a start at lock with Joe Wheeler going to the reserves.

Hooker Liam Coltman gets a break, making way for Ash Dixon, who also takes over the captaincy from Whitelock, while Aki Seiuli will start at loosehead prop, rotating with Dan Lienert-Brown.

The one other change is in the midfield backs, where Richard Buckman returns from injury to replace Rob Thompson.

After scoring three converted tries in the last five minutes in Bloemfontein to run down the Cheetahs, the Highlanders sit fourth in the highly competitive New Zealand conference with a 7-3 win-loss record.

The Bulls are second in their conference, but are coming off a 62-24 thrashing at the hands of unbeaten competition leaders the Crusaders to drop to 3-6.

Highlanders: Matt Faddes, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Richard Buckman, Patrick Osborne, Marty Banks, Aaron Smith, Gareth Evans, Dillon Hunt, Elliot Dixon, Tom Franklin, Alex Ainley, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Ash Dixon (captain), Aki Seiuli. Reserves: Greg Pleasants-Tate, Dan Lienert-Brown, Siate Tokolahi, Joe Wheeler, Jackson Hemopo, Kayne Hammington, Fletcher Smith, Teihorangi Walden.

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