Highlanders shuffle their pack

Date published: April 16 2015

Liam Coltman, Kane Hames and Mark Reddish have been drafted into the Highlanders pack for Saturday's game against the Blues in Dunedin.

Hooker Coltman returns to the starting XV after two games on the bench, while prop Hames is back in the team after serving a five-week suspension for striking Crusaders lock Dominic Bird back in February.

Hames was banned from all rugby until March 28, but has been playing club rugby for the past couple of weeks. Mark Reddish gets his third start of the season with lock Tom Franklin getting a break.

Jason Emery gets a rare start at inside centre with Shaun Treeby taking a well-earned rest, while Richard Buckman has been named in the playing squad for the first time this season after recovering from a knee injury which has haunted him since the national provincial championship.

It's been a tough ride for Buckman, who after becoming a fixture for the Highlanders last season has seen his place on the wing taken over by Waisake Naholo.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (vc), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jason Emery, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (vc), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames

Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Pingi Tala'apitaga, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Richard Buckman

Date: Saturday, April 18

Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Kick-off: 19:35 local (17:35 AEST, 09:35 SAST, 07:35 GMT)

Referee: Chris Pollock

Assistant Referees: Ben O'Keeffe, Mike Lash

TMO: Vinny Munro