Super Rugby Aotearoa

Special milestones for Highlanders co-captains

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Aaron Smith (Getty)
Aaron Smith (Getty)

The Highlanders co-captains will bring up special milestones in the Super Rugby Aotearoa clash against the Hurricanes in Dunedin on Saturday.

Hooker Ash Dixon will play his 100th Super Rugby game, while scrumhalf Aaron Smith will play his 150th.

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Dixon initially represented the Hurricanes before joining the Highlanders in 2015, while Smith made his debut for the Otago franchise in 2011.

"Ash is a humble man who leads by example and has set a good standard for our forwards throughout the competition. We all very proud of his achievement," forwards coach Clarke Dermody told the Highlanders' official website.

Smith recently won the Highlanders' Back of the Year, Fans' Player of the Year and Highlander Man awards after displaying some of the best form of his career.

The All Blacks scrumhalf is the second most capped Highlander behind long-time team-mate and friend, Ben Smith, who played 153 games for the franchise.

Assistant coach Tony Brown acknowledged Smith's contribution.

"He loves this team and wants to see this team at the top, and he knows that if we are to get there it's up to him to drive it, and that's what he does week after week."

Although Saturday's game may well be played in an empty stadium, head coach Aaron Mauger was full of praise for the team’s supporters.

"We can't thank our fans enough for the amazing support they have given us this year, it's inspiring for the team to know we have the community behind us.

"We have one last chance to put our game out there on Saturday. We'll be chasing an eighty minute effort that our co-captains and the team can be proud of."

The Highlanders team shows only one change from last week, with Taranaki flanker Tom Florence coming onto the bench in place of Jesse Parete. Florence will be making his debut for the Highlanders.

Kick-off is at 09:05 (SA time) on Saturday.

Teams:

Highlanders

15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone

Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Manaaki Selby-Ricket, 20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Ngane Punivai, 23 Tom Florence

Hurricanes

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Vince Aso, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Ben May

Substitutes: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Tevita Mafileo, 18 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 19 Liam Mitchell, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Salesi Rayasi, 23 Chase Tiatia