All Blacks ace Ben Smith back and ‘100 per cent’ fit
Ben Smith will return from almost seven weeks out when the Highlanders meet the Crusaders in the Super Rugby quarter-finals on Friday.
The New Zealand star suffered a hamstring injury in the 31-31 draw with the Chiefs on May 4 and was initially ruled out for six to eight weeks.
And although the Highlanders have taken no risks with Smith, who will depart for Pau later this year, he is fit to play against the defending Super Rugby champions in Christchurch.
Smith’s inclusion will come as a boost to the All Blacks, with the 33-year-old to see some club action ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan in September.
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Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger told reporters: “He’s trained really well in the first couple of days this week.
“He was touch and go last week, so we thought he would be a good chance for this week.
“He’s done everything required and ran around at full pace yesterday, getting off the ground and getting in the air. He’s 100 per cent confident that he’s good to go.”