Ben Smith to miss Highlanders' Tokyo trip as part of All Blacks rest

Ben Smith will miss the Highlanders' trip to Tokyo to face the Sunwolves, staying in New Zealand for his second All Blacks rest week.

Highlanders fullback Ben Smith in action against the Crusaders. Source: Photosport

As part of preparations for this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan, key All Blacks are to be given two separate enforced weeks off, and forbidden from playing more than six consecutive matches - excluding bye weeks as seen with Blues winger Rieko Ioane.

With utility back Marty Banks currently out injured with a broken foot, Smith's absence could mean a stint at fullback for young first-five Josh Ioane, or Canterbury winger Josh McKay.

Smith will instead remain home, given a week off to prepare for the Highlanders' clash with the Chiefs in Dunedin on May 4.

Meanwhile, the Crusaders will be without All Blacks duo Scott Barrett and Matt Todd, missing their upcoming clash with the Lions in Christchurch for their second All Blacks rest week.