Ben Smith to be rested for Highlanders clash with Reds

Highlanders fullback will miss his side's Super Rugby clash with the Reds in Brisbane next week, staying in New Zealand after the naming of the first All Blacks squad of the year on Sunday.

Smith, 31, has been named to start at fullback for the Highlanders for their clash against the Waratahs in Sydney this weekend, however he will be rested for the side's next match in a bid to preserve his fitness for the All Blacks' series with France.

With Steve Hansen and New Zealand Rugby implementing a policy of key All Blacks being rested for at least two Super Rugby matches this season, Smith's withdrawal from the Highlanders' squad will come after the fullback has started in every single one of his side's matches this season.

Speaking to media at Highlanders training, coach Aaron Mauger confirmed that his co-captain will sit out of the Brisbane clash.

"Ben is a little bit different," he said.

"He had his sabbatical last year, so he had a lot of time off. We also didn't play him in the (Brisbane) Tens, which was requested by the All Blacks."

The likes of Aaron Smith and Waisake Naholo have also been rested by Mauger so far this season.

Highlanders fullback Ben Smith in action during the Super 15 Rugby match - Chiefs v Highlanders played at FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand on Friday 30 March 2018.

Copyright photo: © Bruce Lim / www.photosport.nz
Highlanders fullback Ben Smith in action against the Chiefs in Super Rugby match in Hamilton. Source: Photosport

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