19 Jun 2019

Ben Smith returns for Highlanders

11:17 am on 19 June 2019

All Black Ben Smith is back in the Highlanders' lineup to take on the Crusaders in their Super Rugby quarter-final in Christchurch on Friday night.

Ben Smith.

Ben Smith had been sidelined with a hamstring injury for seven weeks. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Smith will start at fullback after recovering from a hamstring strain which has kept him out for seven weeks.

He was expected to return last week against the Waratahs, but the Highlanders decided to give him extra time to recover.

The co-captain is one of just three changes to the Highlanders lineup with Sio Tomkinson replacing Tevita Li on the left wing.

An injured Ben Smith is tended to during the match against the Chiefs.

An injured Ben Smith is tended to during the match against the Chiefs. Photo: Photosport

Smith, the Highlanders most capped player, has been working hard to get back on the field over the last six weeks and his timely return will be boost for the southern side as they attempt to upset the defending champions in Christchurch.

Elsewhere Daniel Lienert-Brown rotates with Ayden Johnstone in the front row and the 6/2 forward /back split is maintained on the bench.

Highlanders XV to take on the Crusaders:

1. Daniel Lienert-Brown

2. Liam Coltman

3. Tyrel Lomax

4. Jackson Hemopo

5. Tom Franklin

6. Liam Squire

7. James Lentjes

8. Luke Whitelock (cc)

9. Aaron Smith

10. Josh Ioane

11 Patelesio Tomkinson

12. Teihorangi Walden

13. Rob Thompson

14. Waisake Naholo

15. Ben Smith (cc)

16. Ash Dixon

17. Ayden Johnstone

18. Siate Tokolahi

19. Josh Dickson

20. Shannon Frizell

21. Kayne Hammington

22. Marty Banks

23. Elliot Dixon