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'Plenty of options' to replace Ben Smith at Highlanders, says coach

Having said goodbye to All Blacks fullback Ben Smith, Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger is confident that his 2020 side have all the right tools to replace their former vice-captain in 2020.

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Aaron Mauger is confident in his contenders to replace the All Blacks great. Source: 1 NEWS

As Smith, 33, waved goodbye to New Zealand Rugby after this year's World Cup, joining French side Pau, the Highlanders are left having to replace 153 Super Rugby matches worth of experience when they begin their new campaign.

As the Super Rugby 2020 squads were named last night, the Highlanders' crop of outside backs boast just 16 caps between them.

Despite that, coach Mauger says that fans can expect excitement from his new batch.

"We've got a pretty exciting back three," Mauger told media this morning.

"Josh McKay's really grown over the past couple of years, outstanding in the Mitre 10 Cup this year for Canterbury, he's a guy that's ready to put his hand up.

"Michael Collins is a local boy, bought back into the region, [we're] expecting big things from him, in terms of his playing ability but also his leadership as well.

"They're two guys who'll compete but we've got other guys who can play there, a couple of 10s who can play fullback as well.

"We've got plenty of options."

The Highlanders begin their 2020 season at home to the Sharks on February 7.