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Whitelock adds to Highlanders injury woes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/04/2017

<span style="font-size:13px;">One-Test All Blacks No.8 Luke Whitelock is suffering concussion symptoms, ruling him out of the Highlanders' Super Rugby match against the Stormers.</span> © Martin Hunter/Getty Images One-Test All Blacks No.8 Luke Whitelock is suffering concussion symptoms, ruling him out of the Highlanders' Super Rugby match against the Stormers. Luke Whitelock has joined Elliot Dixon on a growing injury list as the Highlanders announced a swag of changes for their Super Rugby clash with the Stormers in Dunedin.

There are five personnel switches and two further positional tweaks from the side who thumped the Sunwolves in Invercargill.

One-Test No.8 Whitelock, who has produced six successive 80-minute performances, will miss Friday's match after displaying concussion symptoms during the week.

It further depletes the loose forward stocks.

All Blacks flanker Dixon was a late omission last week after picking up a knee infection and remains unavailable.

Shane Christie (illness) and Dan Pryor (knee) are yet to play this year while fellow-flanker James Lentjes is a doubt to return from an early-season dislocated elbow.

Liam Squire shifts to No.8 this week, with Gareth Evans coming onto the blindside flank of a Highlanders side who have won their last four games but remain fourth in the powerful New Zealand conference.

Up front, lock Tom Franklin and prop Siosuia Halanukonuka replace Joe Wheeler and Siate Tokolahi respectively in reserve bench swaps.

Winger Patrick Osborne will play his 50th Super Rugby game after being named in place of Tevita Li on the left wing while Rob Thompson makes his first appearance in six weeks, starting at second five-eighth.

Thompson's introduction restores All Black Malakai Fekitoa to his customary role at centre while Matt Faddes drops to the bench.

The Stormers are coming off a 57-24 pasting from the Crusaders in Christchurch, the South African team's second successive loss after opening the season with six wins.

Highlanders: Ben Smith (capt), Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Rob Thompson, Patrick Osborne, Marty Banks, Aaron Smith, Liam Squire, Dillon Hunt, Gareth Evans, Tom Franklin, Alex Ainley, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Greg Pleasants-Tate, Aki Seiuli, Siate Tokolahi, Joe Wheeler, Jackson Hemopo, Kayne Hammington, Fletcher Smith, Matt Faddes.

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