Highlanders bring back big guns for Waratahs clash

Halfback Aaron Smith returns to the Highlanders' starting XV for their quarterfinal clash with...
Halfback Aaron Smith returns to the Highlanders' starting XV for their quarterfinal clash with the Waratahs. Photo: Getty
The Highlanders have named a full-strength side to take on the Waratahs in Saturday night's Super Rugby quarterfinal in Sydney.

Coach Aaron Mauger has made six starting changes from the makeshift side which finished the regular season with a 43-37 home win over the Rebels.

He has brought back Ben and Aaron Smith, Rob Thompson, Luke Whitelock and Tom Franklin into the starting team, while James Lentjes gets the start at openside flanker.

Mauger wanted to rest key figures who have endured a heavy workload to prepare them for the Australian conference champions.

Veteran fullback and co-captain Ben Smith is a leading light in their counter-attacking style, while halfback Aaron Smith dictates the speed of their game and is a lethal tactical kicker.

The side is: Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Rob Thompson, Tei Walden, Tevita Li, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, James Lentjes, Liam Squire, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Tyrel Lomax, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Aki Seiuli, Kalolo Tuiloma, Shannon Frizell, Elliot Dixon, Kayne Hammington, Josh Ioane, Matt Faddes

 - additional reporting AAP

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