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The Highlanders’ All Blacks To Look Out For Against the Lions

DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 04: Waisake Naholo (L) of the Highlanders and George Bridge of the Crusaders compete for the high ball during the round two Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders at Forsyth Barr Stadium on March 4, 2017 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

Following Saturday’s 12-3 win over the Crusaders, the British and Irish Lions will now a face a Highlanders side containing three All Blacks on Tuesday. 

The Highlanders are currently in fourth place in the New Zealand Conference, and have won 10 of their 14 Super Rugby games so far this season.

As Sam Warburton returns to captain the Lions side, we preview the three Highlanders to look out for in Tuesday’s latest challenge.

Liam Coltman

Coltman is a 27-year-old hooker who joined the Highlanders in 2013. He served as back up to the well-known Andrew Hore in his early career, before making the position his own as the Highlanders won their first Super Rugby title in 2015. Coltman is a constant stand-out in any game of rugby, with his driving play, impressive ruck work, and famous bushy beard.

Liam Coltman (R) of the Highlanders is tackled during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Cheetahs at the Bloemfontein rugby stadium in Bloemfontein on May 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / CHARL DEVENISH (Photo credit should read CHARL DEVENISH/AFP/Getty Images)

Coltman made his first appearance for the All Blacks coming on as a substitute in their 68-10 victory over Italy in late 2016, and we’re sure it won’t be the last we see of him in a New Zealand shirt.

Lima Sopoaga

Sopoaga is a 26-year old fly-half who has been with the Highlanders since 2011. Although quite injury-prone, there is no denying Sopoaga’s kicking ability, or his extreme skill – as he scored over 150 points in Super Rugby in both 2014 and 2015. Sopoaga was part of the Highlander’s triumph in 2015 and made his All Blacks debut the same year, making his test debut against South Africa in Johannesburg.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 11: Rieko Ioane of the Blues tackles Lima Sopoaga of the Highlanders during the round three Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Highlanders at Eden Park on March 11, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

He has since made six appearances for New Zealand, and will certainly be one of the main threats for the Lions in Tuesday’s challenging encounter.

Waisake Naholo

Naholo, also 26, joined the Highlanders in 2015, with the winger playing a pivotal role as one of the competition’s top tryscorers in their Super Rugby triumph. A formidable line-breaker with speed, power and an ability to produce the sublime, Naholo made his All Blacks debut in 2015 versus Argentina, also making two appearances in the 2015 World Cup triumph for his country.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 03: Waisake Naholo of the Highlanders reacting during the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Highlanders at AMI Stadium on June 3, 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Naholo has since made twelve New Zealand appearances, scoring six tries. His trademark pace and brilliance make him the stand-out player to watch in Tuesday’s battle, you can be sure it won’t be the last time the name Naholo appears on your screen.

Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena.

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Author: Jordan Norris

Mostly covering football and GAA - Jordan is currently studying a BA English in UCC, and can be contacted through [email protected] .