Smith back to lead Highlanders

Tue, 11 Feb 2014 07:10
Smith times two
Ben Smith returns to the Highlanders' starting line-up as captain, in a team named by head coach Jamie Joseph to face the Waratahs in a pre-season match in Newcastle on Friday. 
The All Black fullback will be joined in his return by national teammate and scrumhalf Aaron Smith. Both players will return from a period of rest to claim their places in starting line-up for the first time this season.
Shane Christie returns from injury to take the No. 8 jersey in his first start for the Highlanders, while Lima Sopoaga will be starting in the flyhalf position with Kane Hames and Ged Robinson in the front row. 
Loose forwards Nasi Manu, Elliot Dixon and TJ Ioane remain out of action with injury, while hooker Liam Coltman also remains sidelined.
After a tough encounter in Motueka against the Crusaders last week which they lost 15-28, the Highlanders will be looking to continue some of their second half form, which saw them outscore the Crusaders 12-7 in the final forty minutes, into their final pre-season match against the men from Sydney. 
The Highlanders will play their first Super Rugby match of 2014 against the Blues in Dunedin on Saturday 22nd February.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Kurt Baker, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Shane Christie, 7 John Hardie, 6  Gareth Evans, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements - from: Brayden Mitchell, Matias Diaz, Craig Millar, Joe Wheeler, Tom Franklin, TJ Ioane, Lee Allan, Frae Wilson, Hayden Parker, Phil Burleigh, Winston Stanley, Richard Buckman.
Date: Friday, February 14
Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Kick-off: 19.30 (08.30 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)