Photo: Source: Hannah Peters/Getty Images AsiaPac
The Blues have named an experienced side to face the Highlanders this Friday night in Dunedin.
Head coach Tana Umaga named six current and three former All Blacks in his squad for the opener at Forsyth Barr Stadium, while there are four players to make their Super Rugby debuts and two others wearing the Blues jersey for the first time.
The team is:
16. Leni Apisai, 17. Pauliasi Manu, 18. Michael Tamoaieta, 19. Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sione Havili/Antonio Kiri Kiri, 21. Jonathan Ruru, 22. Daniel Kirkpatrick, 23. Melani Nanai.
Players not considered because of injury: Otere Black (knee), Blake Gibson (shoulder), Matt Moulds (knee), Dalton Papalii (hand), Stephen Perofeta (hand), Kara Pryor (ankle), TJ Faiane (calf), Jerome Kaino (ankle), Isaac Salmon (elbow), Jimmy Tupou (rib), Sione Mafileo (knee).
Source: Hannah Peters/Getty Images AsiaPac
The Highlanders have named one of their strongest teams for the last pre season match against the Crusaders tomorrow night. The team includes All Blacks Liam Squire, Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo and Ben Smith.
The match is being held in Waimumu, south of Dunedin.
Highlanders v Crusaders - 6pm, Thursday 15 February, Fred Booth Park, Waimumu
Source: Teaukura Moetaua/Getty Images AsiaPac
34 cap Highlander, Jason Emery has signed with the Sunwolves for 2018. Jason signed with the Highlanders back in 2013, playing 34 games for the franchise. He joins fellow Highlanders Craig Millar, Fumiaki Tanaka, Hayden Parker and Robbie Robinson.
Jason was not signed for 2018 and has joined up with former Highlanders coach, Jamie Joseph.
Source: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images AsiaPa
Sam Whitelock will captain the Crusaders in their final pre-season match against the Highlanders this Thursday night.
The starting All Blacks are expected to play in the first half only.
Starting XV: David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Braydon Ennor, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Pete Samu, Sam Whitelock (captain), Scott Barrett, Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett.
Reserves: Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Chris King, Ben Funnell, Oli Jager, Luke Romano, Quinten Strange, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Billy Harmon, Mitchell Drummond, Mitch Hunt, Jone Macilai, Tim Bateman, Manasa Mataele, George Bridge.