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All Blacks New Zealand Rugby team releases 3 for Highlanders-Lions clash

Only Waisake Naholo and Lima Sopoaga from the All Blacks squad, and Liam Coltman who is in as injury cover, have been made available to face the Lions.

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All Black Waisake Naholo has been named in the Otago Highlanders side that will take on the British and Irish Lions in Dunedin on Tuesday play

All Black Waisake Naholo has been named in the Otago Highlanders side that will take on the British and Irish Lions in Dunedin on Tuesday

(AFP/File)

The All Blacks have released three players for Tuesday's Otago Highlanders clash with the British and Irish Lions in Dunedin, while international commitments ruled out another seven.

Only Waisake Naholo and Lima Sopoaga from the All Blacks squad, and Liam Coltman who is in as injury cover, have been made available to face the Lions.

The Lions side are on a high after they downed the previously unbeaten Canterbury Crusaders 9-3 on Saturday.

The Highlanders, at near full strength, fell to the Crusaders the previous week 25-22 with the match sealed by a drop goal after the final hooter.

However, All Blacks Ben and Aaron Smith will not be available to play the Lions as they prepare to face Samoa on Friday.

Meanwhile Elliot Dixon, Ash Dixon, Joe Wheeler, Rob Thompson and Tom Franklin are required for the New Zealand Maori clash with the Lions on Saturday.

Sopoaga will start at fly-half with Kayne Hammington at scrum-half in place of Aaron Smith, while Richard Buckman replaces Ben Smith at fullback.

Highlanders (15-1): Richard Buckman, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Teihorangi Walden, Tevita Li, Lima Sopoaga, Kayne Hammington, Luke Whitelock (captain), Dillon Hunt, Gareth Evans, Jackson Hemopo, Alex Ainley, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown.

Replacements: Greg Pleasants-Tate, Aki Seiuli, Siosiua Halanukonuka, Josh Dickson, James Lentjes, Josh Renton, Marty Banks, Patrick Osborne.

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