Webb goes for Highlanders spot
January 28, 2004

Grant Webb will be pressing for a starting position for the Highlanders Super 12 team when they play their development squad at Logan Park on tonight.

Webb as been plagued by injuries in the past two years after impressing for Otago in 2001.

Taine Randell and Kelvin Middleton having moved on but he will battle it out with the versatile Sam Harding for the No 8 starting spot.

"It's reward for Grant's dedication," said Highlanders coach Greg Cooper to NZPA.

"He hasn't always had it that easy. Sam's growing in that position as well. They're good friends and they'll relish the competition. They have different styles but they're both very strong physically. They're great athletes."

Paul Williams is injured and Glen Horton will start at full-back.

"We've always been extremely impressed with Glen," Cooper said. "We rate him highly and he is also developing physically."

Cooper also rates Neil Brew as a replacement for Williams.

"Neil had a very strong Air New Zealand NPC last year as a centre-wing and if you look at Mils Muliaina, who was a centre-wing, who would have said a few years ago he would be the All Black fullback?

"Fullback these days is an interchangeable position and it's a matter of having players who have very good all-round skills."

All-Black Tony Brown will play the first quarter at first five-eighth on Wednesday and Cooper said he was "in the best shape I've seen him for some time".

"He's feeling good but we're making sure we don't overload him. We've got confidence in him and he's got confidence in himself."

Highlanders' newcomers, prop Ben Nolan and flanker Hale T-Pole are unavailable.

Nolan has a minor foot problem and T-Pole has a medial ligament strain in his right knee.

"The main thing is to give everyone some game time."

Highlanders squad: Horton, Brew, Aisea Tuilevu, Iliesa Tanivula, Hayden Pedersen, Seilala Mapusua, Ryan Nicholas, Seru Rabeni, Nick Evans, Mathew Berquist, Tony Brown, Jimmy Cowan, Danny Lee, Webb, Harding, Josh Blackie, Craig Newby, Daniel Quate, Simon Maling, Filipo Levi, Tom Donnelly, Clarke Dermody, Carl Hayman, Carl Hoeft, Anton Oliver, Jason Rutledge.

Development squad: Ben Smith, Ryan Glover, Jason Shoemark, Jason Kawau (captain), Matt Saunders, Richard Apanui, Toby Morland, Paul Miller, Tom Harding, Adam Thomson, Pelu Pavihi, James Ryan, Jeremy Aldworth, Jason Macdonald, Daniel Johnson, David Hall, Hamish Blakeley, Jamie McIntosh, Grant Frith, Ezra Taylor, Warren Smith, Nick Howell, James Wilson, Chris Smiley, Ryan McCarthy, Peter Merrilees.

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