The Highlanders have bolstered their side for Saturday’s Super Rugby quarter-final against the Waratahs in Sydney.

All Blacks Ben Smith, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock and Elliot Dixon all return along with co-captain Ash Dixon and centre, Rob Thompson.

The Highlanders met the Waratahs once this season in Sydney, losing 41-12, though the last time the two sides met in the playoffs, the southerners won away from home on their way to the title in 2015.

Coach Aaron Mauger said Saturday’s an exciting opportunity.

“These are the opportunities the guys work hard all year for and there are no second chances. It’s simply about putting our best performance on the field. The Waratahs are a quality side playing at home which presents an awesome challenge for our guys, but like I said, these are the games we love to play.”

Meanwhile Hurricanes captain Brad Shields has confirmed he’ll play in tomorrow’s quarter-final against the Chiefs after successfully recovering from a rib injury.

Highlanders side to face the Waratahs:

1. Daniel Lienert-Brown

2. Liam Coltman

3. Tyrel Lomax

4. Jackson Hemopo

5. Tom Franklin

6. Liam Squire

7. James Lentjes

8. Luke Whitelock

9. Aaron Smith

10. Lima Sopoaga

11. Tevita Li

12. Teihorangi Walden

13. Rob Thompson

14. Waisake Naholo

15. Ben Smith (cc)

16. Ash Dixon (cc)

17. Aki Seiuli

18. Kalolo Tuiloma

19. Shannon Frizell

20. Elliott Dixon

21. Kayne Hammington

22. Josh Ioane

23. Matt Faddes

RNZ

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