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PREVIEW: Southern Kings v Highlanders

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Friday, July 1, 2016    allblacks.com    Getty Images

ROUND 15: Kings v Highlanders, Sunday 3 July, 3.05am (NZT), Port Elizabeth

TALE OF THE TAPE

Although the Kings are sitting at the bottom of the South Africa Group they will take confidence from beating the Jaguares in their last outing. The Port Elizabeth-based side will take a further boost from their one and only previous encounter with the Highlanders where they won 34-27 in 2013. The Highlanders are sitting at fourth on the NZ conference and need to win to stay in the hunt for a play-off spot.

QUICK TAP: HIGHLANDERS MAKE BIG SIGNING FOR 2017

HANDY HALFBACKS
With Aaron Smith rested from All Blacks duty and Fumiaki Tanaka injured, the Highlanders have called up two uncapped halfbacks for the Kings clash. Te Aihe Toma will start in the nine jersey with Jamie Booth on the bench. Toma, 23, impressed for Bay of Plenty in the domestic competition last year and will make the jump from playing in the Tauranga club competition last week to Super Rugby this weekend. Booth is the incumbent Manawatu Turbos halfback and spent time in the Blues squad last season.
TURNOVER KING
Blindside flanker CJ Velleman has been a titan for the Kings at the breakdown this season. The dynamic loose forward has secured 17 turnovers from his nine appearances to sit second equal in the competition. His opposite Gareth Evans gets his first start of the season for the Highlanders and will have to hit the ground running to quell the threat from Velleman at the breakdown.

BENCH STRENGTH
Expect the Highlanders to finish strongly with Lima Sopoaga and Lima Squire back from All Blacks duty and Patrick Osborne returning from representing Fiji. The star trio will be looking to power the Highlanders home to victory against a Kings side which has proven to be vulnerable in the final quarter.

TEAMS:
Highlanders: 15: Matt Faddes 14: Jack Wilson 13: Jason Emery 12: Rob Thompson 11: Ryan Tongia 10: Marty Banks 9: Te Aihe Toma 8: Luke Whitelock 7: Shane Christie (C) 6: Gareth Evans 5: Tom Franklin 4: Mark Reddish 3: Josh Hohneck 2: Ash Dixon 1: Daniel Lienert-Brown
Reserves: Greg Pleasents-Tate, Aki Seiuli, Siosuia Halunkonuka, Liam Squire, Dan Pryor, Jamie Booth, Lima Sopoaga, Patrick Osborne

Kings: 15: Malcolm Jaer 14: Lukhanyo Arn 13: Stefan Watermeyer 12: Shane Gates 11: Wandie Mjekevu 10: Elgar Watts 9: Ntando Kebe 8: Aidon Davis 7: Stefan Willemse 6: CJ Velleman 5: John-Charles Astle 4: Steven Sykes 3: Tom Botha 2: Edgard Maruttule 1: Schalk Ferreira
Reserves: Martin Bezuidenhout, Sithembiso Sithole, Justin Ackerman, Schalk Oeloise, Jacques Engelbrecht, Kevin Luiters, Louis Fouche, Luzuko Vulindlu