Super Rugby
Brad Thorn captains Highlanders
March 21, 2013
The Highlanders' Brad Thorn is tackled by the Cheetahs, Highlanders v Cheetahs, Super Rugby, Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill, March 9, 2013
Brad Thorn inherits the captain's armband from Andrew Hore © Getty Images
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Tournaments/Tours: Super Rugby
Teams: New Zealand

Brad Thorn will captain a Highlanders side that features three starting changes for their Super Rugby match against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday.

Injuries suffered by captain Andrew Hore (rib) and his back-up hooker Brayden Mitchell (broken collarbone) in the round-five loss to the Hurricanes see Liam Coltman promoted to the No.2 jersey, with veteran rake Jason Rutledge named on the reserve bench after joining the squad this week.

IRB Rugby World Cup winner Thorn, 38, inherits the captain's armband. He will pack down at lock alongside Josh Bekhuis, who is recalled and pushes Jarrad Hoeata to blindside flanker and Joe Wheeler to the bench.

All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu returns to the side as the only change to the backline, having missed two games with a knee injury. Phil Burleigh drops to the reserves.

Tight-head prop Chris King has been named to start in his 100th Super Rugby match. King, who will play his 84th game for the Highlanders, joins hooker Anton Oliver (127 games) and half-back Jimmy Cowan (108 games) as the only players to chalk up 100 games while playing for the southern franchise.

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph said King had been rewarded for his attitude and testament over several solid seasons. "Chris has a very professional approach to his rugby," Joseph said. "He's been a great leader both on and off the field, and these attributes have made him a player who has been selected week in and week out for our team."

Highlanders: Ben Smith; Kade Poki, Jason Emery, Ma'a Nonu, Hosea Gear; Colin Slade, Aaron Smith; Elliot Dixon, John Hardie, Jarrad Hoeata; Josh Bekhuis, Brad Thorn (captain); Chris King, Liam Coltman, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Jason Rutledge, Bronson Murray, Joe Wheeler, Tim Boys, Frae Wilson, Lima Sopoaga, Phil Burleigh.

© ESPN Australia/New Zealand

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