25 May 2017

Ben Smith back for Highlanders

11:21 am on 25 May 2017

Co-captain Ben Smith is back in the Highlanders starting lineup for Saturday's Super Rugby game against the Waratahs in Dunedin.

The Highlanders' fullback and captain Ben Smith scores a try.

The Highlanders' fullback and captain Ben Smith scores a try. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Smith has missed their last three games with an ankle injury and this weekend will play his record equalling 127th game for the Highlanders.

Smith stands beside former Highlanders captain Anton Oliver as the clubs most capped player.

Also returning from injury is number eight Luke Whitelock meaning a shift for Elliot Dixon to the blindside while Aki Seiuli and Siate Tokolahi retain the starting spots in the front row.

Waisake Naholo returns on the right wing, replacing Patrick Osborne, after serving his one game suspension last week.

The bench has an experienced look to it with regular starters Ash Dixon, Siosuia Halanukonuka,Daniel Lienert-Brown,Joe Wheeler,Lima Sopoaga and Rob Thompson all included.

Head Coach Tony Brown is delighted to be back home after three weeks on the road "it's always good to be home under the roof in front of our home fans, especially after being away for so long. I know the players are all really looking forward to the challenge against a Waratahs side that includes so many Wallaby players, it should be a good contest."

The Highlanders are seventh in the Super Rugby standings.

Highlanders team...

1. Aki Seiuli

2. Liam Coltman

3. Siate Tokolahi

4. Alex Ainley

5. Tom Franklin

6. Elliot Dixon

7. Dillon Hunt

8. Luke Whitelock

9. Aaron Smith

10. Marty Banks

11. Tevita Li

12. Richard Buckman

13. Malakai Fekitoa

14. Waisake Naholo

15. Ben Smith ( cc )


16. Ash Dixon (cc)

17. Daniel Lienert-Brown

18. Siosuia Halanukonuka

19. Joe Wheeler

20. Gareth Evans

21. Kayne Hammington

22. Lima Sopoaga

23. Rob Thompson

Unavailable due to injury: Shane Christie, James Lentjes, Liam Squire, Greg Pleasants-Tate (Out for the season: Jason Emery, Hayden Parker)