All Blacks duo bolster Highlanders

The Highlanders welcome back Ben and Aaron Smith for their match against the Blues in Auckland on Friday.

However, they will be without another All Black, Malakai Fekitoa, who has a groin injury.

There are 10 positional and personnel changes to the team that lost to the Hurricanes in Napier.

The front row is completely changed, with Daniel Lienert-Brown making his first start of the season, along with lock Joe Latta. In the back row, Elliot Dixon moves to blindside flank and Dan Pryor returns at No 8.

In the backs, Richard Buckman will start at outside centre in Fekitoa's absence, with Patrick Osborne on the left wing.

Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith (c), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Richard Buckman, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Dan Pryor, 7 John Hardie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Latta, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Kurt Baker.

Super Rugby teams (Round 18)

Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty_Images

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Simon Borchardt