Slade’s slow comeback

RICHARD FERGUSON updates followers on the latest Super Rugby news from New Zealand.

Slade eyes March return

The Highlanders could welcome back first choice flyhalf Colin Slade as early as March, after his broken leg ended his 2012 season.

Slade has had two horrible years of injury, breaking his jaw twice during the 2011 season and then breaking his leg early in the 2012 season. The All Black is hoping to be back in time to face the Cheetahs in round 4.

Highlanders go big for Blues

The Highlanders take on the Blues in a final preseason match and coach Jamie Joseph has selected a strong outfit, quite close to the expected team to face the Chiefs in two weeks’ time.

Hosea Gear will lead out the team with an impressive backline which includes All Black Aaron Smith running the show from scrumhalf and Ma’a Nonu in midfield to wreak havoc.

Highlanders: 15. Buxton Popoalii, 14. Kade Poki, 13. Phil Burleigh, 12. Ma’a Nonu, 11. Hosea Gear (c), 10. Hayden Parker, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Nasi Manu, 7. John Hardie, 6. Joe Wheeler, 5. Josh Bekhuis, 4. Jarrad Hoeata, 3. Ma’afu Fia, 2. Breayden Mitchell, 1. Tony Woodcock Replacements: Backs: Jason Emery, Fumiaki Tanaka, Shaun Treeby, Trent Renata and Frae Wilson. Forwards: Hugh Blake, Tim Boys, Liam Coltman, Tom Franklin, Paul Grant, Chris King, Jamie Mackintosh and Bronson Murray.