Southland pair get rare starts for Highlanders

LOCK IT IN: Southland lock Josh Bekhuis will start in the Highlanders' second-row for the first time in 2014.
LOCK IT IN: Southland lock Josh Bekhuis will start in the Highlanders' second-row for the first time in 2014.

Southland's John Hardie and Josh Bekhuis will get a rare start for the Highlanders this season when the southern franchise takes on the Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday morning.

Hardie and Bekhuis were frontline starters for the Highlanders last season but both have struggled for game time this year.

Hardie has had two starts in the No 7 jersey this season but all up has played only 161 minutes through the Highlanders' first eight games.

For Bekhuis, the Stormers match will be his first start in 2014.

Bekhuis replaces Jarrad Hoeata at lock, with Hoeata dropping to the bench, while Hardie replaces Shane Christie, also on the bench.

Southland's third player in the Highlanders squad, Elliot Dixon, has retained his place on the blindside flank.

In the other change to the Highlanders team that upset the Sharks last weekend, Trent Renata replaces injured Patrick Osborne on the wing.

Osborne and prop Craig Millar returned to New Zealand earlier this week after receiving injuries in the game against the Sharks.

Osborne has aggravated the ankle injury received in the round two game against the Blues and Millar received a left shoulder injury.

Matias Diaz has joined the team in South Africa and fills the front row reserve spot on the bench left by Millar.

Meanwhile, Schalk Burger has returned to the Stormers' starting lineup. Burger is one of four changes the Stormers have made from the side that lost to the Cheetahs.

Burger replaces Siya Kolisi in the No 7 jersey. Another change is at first- five where Kurt Coleman makes his first start of 2014. Hooker Scarra Ntubeni returns to the starting side, as does wing Sailosi Tagicakibau.


HIGHLANDERS: Ben Smith (co-captain), Richard Buckman, Malakai Fekitoa, Shaun Treeby, Trent Renata, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu (co-captain), John Hardie, Elliot Dixon, Joe Wheeler, Josh Bekhuis, Chris King, Liam Coltman, Kane Hames. Reserves: Brayden Mitchell, Matias Diaz, Ma'afu Fia, Jarrad Hoeata, Shane Christie, Fumiaki Tanaka, Jason Emery, Phil Burleigh

STORMERS: Jaco Taute, Damian de Allende, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Sailosi Tagicakibau, Kurt Coleman, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger (vice-captain), Nizaam Carr, Michael Rhodes, Ruan Botha, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Reserves: Deon Fourie, Oliver Kebble, Brok Harris, Jurie van Vuuren, Siya Kolisi, Louis Schreuder, Peter Grant, Kobus van Wyk

The Southland Times