Rugby: Gear to start on wing in Highlanders debut

Hosea Gear will get his first outing in a Highlanders jersey tomorrow while a couple of King's High School old boys will patrol the midfield.

Gear was the big signing for the Highlanders in the off season and the All Black winger will make his Highlanders debut against the Chiefs in the pre-season match in Queenstown.

Gear was unavailable for the opening pre-season game last weekend against the Crusaders, as he was playing sevens for the victorious New Zealand team at the Wellington tournament.

His inclusion on the wing was needed, as injuries have dealt a blow to the Highlanders and there are few options left in the backs.

After not paying any proper rugby since September, Gear is also in need of a run.

Inside him, Ben Smith moves from fullback to centre, which many think is his best position.

Glenn Dickson again takes the place of second five-eighth, beside his old school team-mate Smith. The Highlanders have been hard hit in the midfield with Shaun Treeby (knee), Kendrick Lynn (neck), Tamati Ellison (Japan) and Siale Piutau (ankle) all unavailable.

Up front, Nick Crosswell and Culum Retallick will lock the scrum with Crosswell, who will wear the captain's armband.

Encouraging for the Highlanders is lock Josh Bekhuis is included in the reserves.

Bekhuis had an operation on a hip after last year's domestic season and has taken a long time to get back to fitness.

There is still no sign of captain Jamie Mackintosh, who is recovering from a pelvis operation.

With the Highlanders naming 10 reserves, plenty of changes can be expected at halftime.

The Chiefs are bringing a squad of 29 and will not name their team until tomorrow.

A couple of big names have been left at home but confidence in the team should be high after it beat the Rebels 36-0 in Geelong last week.

Liam Messam is not heading south because of an injured calf and hooker Hika Elliot has picked up a neck injury in training.

Sonny Bill Williams rejoins the Chiefs squad on Monday after his boxing sideline.

All Black backs Aaron Cruden and Richard Kahui will front for the Chiefs.

The match will be played at the Queenstown Recreation Ground in the middle of town, kicking off at 5pm. Entry is free and organisers hope for a big crowd.

Highlanders v Chiefs
Tomorrow, Queenstown, 5pm
Highlanders: Kurt Baker, Telusa Veainu, Ben Smith, Glenn Dickson, Hosea Gear, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu, Doug Tietjens, Adam Thomson, Culum Retallick, Nick Crosswell (captain), Ma'afu Fia, Jason Rutledge, Bronson Murray. Reserves: Andrew Hore, Chris King, Hoani Macdonald, Elliot Dixon, Jimmy Cowan, Chris Noakes, Buxton Popoali'i, Nemia Kenatale, Brayden Mitchell, Josh Bekhuis.
Chiefs (from): Phil Burleigh, Aaron Cruden, Andrew Horrell, Richard Kahui, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Brendon Leonard, Tim Nanai-Williams, Lelia Masaga, Maritino Nemani, Robbie Robinson, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Jackson Willison, Ben Afeaki, Sam Cane, Craig Clarke (captain), Shane Cleaver, Marcel Cumming-Tonne, Mike Fitzgerald, Rory Grice, Tanerau Latimer, Fritz Lee, Ronald Raaymakers, Brodie Retallick, Mahonri Schwalger, Tony Smith, Ben Tameifuna, Sona Taumalolo, Kane Thompson, Scott Waldrom.


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