Super Rugby round 12
Ma'a Nonu ruled out for three weeks
May 3, 2013
The Highlanders' Ma'a Nonu takes to the field against the Chiefs, Chiefs v Highlanders, Super Rugby, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, March 22, 2013
Ma'a Nonu's season has gone from bad to worse © Getty Images
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Ma'a Nonu will miss the Highlanders' Super Rugby round 12 match against the Sharks in Dunedin with a knee injury. The All Blacks second five-eighth, expected to be sidelined for up to three weeks, has been replaced by Shaun Treeby as one of four changes to the Highlanders backline for what is a significant match for Rugby World Cup 2011 winner Brad Thorn.

Thorn will win his 100th Super Rugby cap when he runs out onto Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night, the fifth player to achieve the milestone as a Highlanders player. Anton Oliver (127), Jimmy Cowan (108), Tony Brown (108) and Chris King (102) played most of their matches for the Highlanders, while Thorn notched up 92 for the Crusaders, but coach Jamie Joseph still applauded the rare cause for celebration in a winless season.

"Brad is a great player who brings a work ethic like no other," Joseph said. "He's a natural leader within our environment, and he has added a massive amount to our leadership group this season." Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said: " He brings up this milestone in a Highlanders jersey with his family in attendance, which is special for all of us."

All Blacks centre Tamati Ellison, meanwhile, is set to get his season under way after recovering from a severe shoulder injury, and Colin Slade returns to the starting line-up at fly-half. Phil Burleigh will start on the right wing in the absence of the Japan-bound Kade Poki (ribs) and Buxton Popoali'I (ankle).

Hayden Parker moves back to the bench in place of Lima Sopoaga (ankle) while TJ Ioane retains his spot in the No. 8 jersey in the absence of import Mose Tuiali'I (knee).

Highlanders: Ben Smith; Phil Burleigh, Tamati Ellison, Shaun Treeby, Hosea Gear; Colin Slade, Aaron Smith; TJ Ioane, John Hardie, Jarrad Hoeata; Josh Bekhuis, Brad Thorn; Chris King, Andrew Hore (captain), Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Liam Coltman, Ma'afu Fia, Elliot Dixon, Joe Wheeler, Fumiaki Tanaka, Hayden Parker, Jason Emery.

© ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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