18 Jul 2014

Ben Smith back for Sharks game

7:36 am on 18 July 2014

The All Black Ben Smith says he's delighted to be back in the Highlanders' starting lineup for Sunday morning's Super Rugby playoff game against South Africans the Sharks in Durban.

Highlanders fullback Ben Smith.

Highlanders fullback Ben Smith. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The co-captain's return is one of five changes coach Jamie Joseph's made to his team.

Smith returns to the starting line-up at fullback after a leg infection resulted in him missing the final regular season clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend.

He says the timing of the lay-off wasn't good and he was frustrated, but he's trained well this week and is excited about the challenge ahead of them.

Lima Sopoaga gets a recall at first-five and will be partnered by Phil Burleigh at second-five. Trent Renata moves back to the bench as utility cover.

There are two changes to the forward pack; with Ged Robinson to start at hooker and Jarrad Hoeata at lock.

Tom Franklin moves onto the bench.

This will be the Highlanders' second trip to the Sharks' home this year, and the team will be hoping to produce another performance like the round 11 match-up that saw the Highlanders win 34-18.


1 - Kane Hames

2 - Ged Robinson

3 - Chris King

4 - Jarrad Hoeata

5 - Joe Wheeler

6 - Elliot Dixon

7 - Shane Christie

8 - Nasi Manu (co-captain)

9 - Aaron Smith

10 - Lima Sopoaga

11 - Patrick Osborne

12 - Phil Burleigh

13 - Malakai Fekitoa

14 - Richard Buckman

15 - Ben Smith (co-captain)


16 - Liam Coltman

17 - Matias Diaz

18 - JP Koen

19 - Josh Bekhuis

20 - Tom Franklin

21 - Fumiaki Tanaka

22 - Trent Renata

23 - Gareth Evans