Planet Rugby

Highlanders change four for Sharks

03rd May 2013 06:20

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Brad Thorn Highlanders SR 2013

Centurion: Brad Thorn

Highlanders boss Jamie Joseph has made four changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with the Sharks in Dunedin.

In the backs, Colin Slade starts at fly-half and Hayden Parker moves back to the reserves. Ma'a Nonu has been ruled out through injury, bringing Shaun Treeby back into the starting XV in his place.

Tamati Ellison makes a long awaited return from a shoulder injury and he will start at centre. Phil Burleigh will start on the right wing.

The Highlanders pack remains unchanged from the eight that started against the Crusaders two weeks ago.

The game is a significant one for former All Blacks lock Brad Thorn who will make his 100th Super Rugby appearance. He joins fellow Highlander Chris King who also reached this milestone in 2013.

Thorn made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2001 and played 92 games for the red and blacks up until the end of 2011.

He linked with the Highlanders in 2013 and he joins a small and illustrious group of centurions, with only Anton Oliver (127 games), Jimmy Cowan (108), Tony Brown (108) and Chris King (102) also to reach the milestone while playing for the southern franchise.

Joseph congratulated Thorn on the achievement.

"Brad is a great player who brings a work ethic like no other," he said.

"He's a natural leader within our environment, and he has added a massive amount to our leadership group this season".

Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark echoed Joseph's sentiments

"On behalf of the Highlanders franchise, and all those who support Brad, we offer our congratulations on achieving 100 Super Rugby games," he said.

"He brings up this milestone in a Highlanders jersey with his family in attendance, which is special for all of us."

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Phil Burleigh, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 Elliot Dixon, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Fumiaka Tanaka, 21 Hayden Parker, 22 Jason Emery.

Date: Saturday, May 4
Kick-off: 19:35 local (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
Television match official: Keith Brown (New Zealand)

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