Emery set to start for Highlanders

13th Mar 2013, 13:20

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Set for a run: Jason Emery

Set for a run: Jason Emery

The Highlanders are set to hand New Zealand U20 centre Jason Emery his first Super Rugby start for Friday's clash with the Hurricanes.

The Highlanders are set to hand New Zealand U20 outside centre Jason Emery his first Super Rugby start for their derby clash with the Hurricanes.

Emery was a star performer at the 2012 Junior World Championship and is poised to get a first taste of the top flight due to a midfield injury crisis.

With Ma'a Nonu nursing a knee injury that ruled him out of last week's loss to the Cheetahs and Shaun Treeby out for four to six weeks with a torn hamstring, the Highlanders are short on options in midfield.

Tamati Ellison is in the process of returning from a long-term shoulder injury and although he is running, it'll be a few months before he can take contact.

The only midfield options left in the squad are Phil Burleigh and Emery but coach Jamie Joseph is excited to hand the youngster a run.

"There are concerns but that gives our young centre a real opportunity," he told sportal.co.nz.

"He's certainly got the pedigree to be a good rugby player... he's fit in quite well."

Should Emery start, he is set to line up against All Black veteran Conrad Smith in what is something of a baptism of fire for the promising 19-year-old.