Highlander #160 gets 150
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: All Black great Ben Smith will play his 150th game for the Highlanders against the Crusaders on Friday.
As Highlander #160 he made his debut in 2009 and debuted later that year for the All Blacks (75 Tests).
Smith has scored 190 points for the southern-most franchise.
Born and raised in Dunedin, schooled at the local Kings High School and a member of the local Green Island club, he can certainly lay claim to being a true southern man.
An amazingly versatile player who can play equally well at wing or fullback, he has perfected the art of evasion, possessing an uncanny ability to break tackles and a rare skillset the enables him to play largely mistake-free rugby week after week.
The consummate professional his performances have earned him the reputation as being a model of consistency over the years.
Coach Aaron Mauger is full of praise for his captain.
“It’s difficult to fully express Bender’s contribution to this team and the franchise over the years, it really is incalculable,” Mauger said.
“He is the ultimate professional in how he conducts himself on and off the field and a great inspiration to any player.
“It’s fantastic he has reached the 150th game mark; a milestone Ben and his family can be very proud of.”
Those unavailable due to injury include Tevita Nabura (knee, out for the season), Liam Squire (knee), Aaron Smith (ankle), Richard Buckman (Achilles), Luke Whitelock (calf) and Marty Banks (foot).
Highlanders; 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Patelesio Tomkinson.
Date: Friday, April 12
Venue: Christchurch Stadium, Addington
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy (Australia), Angus Gardner (Australia)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)