Gear joins 100 club
All Black wing Hosea Gear will play in his 100th Super Rugby game on Saturday when the Highlanders host the Crusaders in Dunedin.
Gear made his debut for the Highlanders in 2012 and has had a remarkable run. He played all 16 games in 2012 and has not missed a game this season, bringing his total games for the Highlanders to 29 caps.
He made his debut for the Hurricanes against the Chiefs in 2004 and with 36 tries in Super Rugby and 42 tries at provincial level, he has proven himself as one of the best finishers in the game.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has seen the development of Hosea into a world-class player and professional athlete.
"I have seen Hosea develop into one of the best players in the world in his position. He is one of the hardest workers both on and off the field. He always brings a professional approach to the Highlanders team environment and is highly respected by all the guys. Our team would like to congratulate him for reaching this remarkable milestone," said Joseph.
Highlanders' General Manager Roger Clark also congratulated Gear on reaching 100 games in Super Rugby.
"Hosea is a remarkable player and a strong leader within our team. He has always done his talking on the field and led by example and this season has been one of his best. On behalf of the Highlanders I would like to congratulate Hosea on reaching 100 Super games tomorrow night."
Joseph has made three changes to the starting XV that dispatched the Blues on June 1. Tony Woodcock starts at loosehead prop, Elliot Dixon replaces the injured John Hardie at openside flank and Kade Poki comes back into the run-on XV after a long absence with a rib injury.
On the bench, Lima Sopoaga makes his return from an ankle injury and Jake Paringatai wears the No.18 jersey.
The Round 18 game is the 23rd between the southern neighbours with the Crusaders having the advantage with 15 wins to the Highlanders' eight.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Fumaki Tanaka, 8 Mose Tuiali'i, 7 Elliot Dixon, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Jake Paringatai, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Liam Sopoaga, 22 Ma'a Nonu.
Date: Saturday, June 29
Kick-off: 19:35 local (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand). Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
Television match official: Keith Brown (New Zealand)