Highlanders rest their Smiths against Reds

Jul 12, 2017 - 12:34 AM The Highlanders have rested All Backs stars Aaron Smith and Ben Smith for the final round home Super Rugby match against the Queensland Reds.

However, eight-Test flanker Liam Squire returns from injury to boost the Highlanders (10-4), who are fourth in the New Zealand conference and set to meet either South Africa's high-flying Lions or competition-leading countrymen the Crusaders in the quarter-finals.

Star halfback Aaron Smith is rested after playing a big role in the All Blacks' drawn Test series with the British and Irish Lions while influential fullback Smith has been given another week off before returning from concussion issues.

The Reds (4-10) will be out to make the most of a last chance to impress Wallabies coach Michael Cheika ahead of the Rugby Championship.

They face a Highlanders team which includes recent All Blacks squad members in winger Waisake Naholo, centre Malakai Fekitoa and hooker Liam Coltman.

It has a similar feel to the team which thrilled when beating the British and Irish Lions 23-22 in the June break.

Coach Tony Brown says the team is looking forward to a strong performance in what could be their last home game.

Highlanders: Richard Buckman, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Rob Thompson, Tevita Li, Lima Sopoaga, Kayne Hammington, Luke Whitelock (co-captain), James Lentjes, Liam Squire, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Ash Dixon (co-captain), Aki Seiuli, Guy Millar, Gareth Evans, Dan Pryor, Josh Renton, Marty Banks, Patelesio Tomkinson.

Source: AAP

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