Smith to bring up his ton against Rebels

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:53

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: All Black scrumhalf Aaron Smith will play his 100th Super Rugby game and 100th game for the Highlanders when they face the Rebels in Dunedin on Friday.

Smith, Highlander No.175, debuted in 2011 against the Bulls in Pretoria and has been a regular selection ever since.

Renowned as one of the best passing scrumhalves in the game he debuted for the All Blacks in 2012 and has been capped 62 times.

His efforts for both the All Blacks and Highlanders in 2014 saw him recognised with the Tom French Memorial Trophy for Maori Player of the Year.

He becomes the fifth player behind Anton Oliver (127), Jimmy Cowan (108), Chris King (106) and Ben Smith (123) to play 100 games for the Highlanders.

"Aaron has been the best No.9 in the world for some time now and is such an important part of our game," Highlanders coach Tony Brown said.

"It's fantastic that he gets to clock up a 100 games for the franchise, he joins a small group of amazing rugby players and he deserves his place in that company, he's earned his selection in every one of those 100 games through hard work and consistency of performance."

Smith will be presented with a pounamu mere - the New Zealand Rugby Union's gift for centurions - on Friday, following the conclusion of the game.

Smith will partner with Marty Banks in the halfbacks, as Fletcher Smith moves to the bench and Tevita Li returns to the wing to replace a well performed Sio Tomkinson.

The forwards have Aki Seiuli, Joe Wheeler and Gareth Evans moving from last week's bench to the starting team and in the reserves, Elliot Dixon and Daniel Lienert-Brown, get a break from the starting lineup this week. Tupou Sopoaga will make his debut appearance if required.

Players who are unavailable due to injury include Liam Squire, Shane Christie, Ash Dixon, Dan Pryor, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo, Adrian Smith and James Lentjes.

Jason Emery and Hayden Parker are out for the season.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Tevita Li, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Joe Wheeler, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 19 Elliot Dixon, 20 Tupou Sopoaga, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes.

Date: Friday, March 31
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (17.35 AEDT; 06.35 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill, Angus Mabey
TMO: Aaron Paterson

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 29 July 2017
Crusaders v Chiefs 07h35 Christchurch
Golden Lions v Griquas 10h00 Johannesburg
Lions v Hurricanes 12h30 Ellis Park
Sharks v Pumas 15h00 Durban
Sun, 30 July 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Western Province 12h30 Bloemfontein
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 July 2017
Pumas v Golden Lions 43 | 36
Sat, 22 July 2017
Griquas v Blue Bulls 45 | 51
Stormers v Chiefs 11 | 17
Lions v Sharks 23 | 21
Crusaders v Highlanders 17 | 0
Fri, 21 July 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 47 | 12
Brumbies v Hurricanes 16 | 35
Sat, 15 July 2017
Sharks v Lions 10 | 27
Bulls v Stormers 33 | 41
Force v Waratahs 40 | 11
Hurricanes v Crusaders 31 | 22
Chiefs v Brumbies 28 | 10
Sunwolves v Blues 43 | 21
Fri, 14 July 2017
Kings v Cheetahs 20 | 21
Rebels v Jaguares 29 | 32
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28