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The Highlanders and New Zealand Rugby have congratulated Ben Smith as he prepares to reach his 100th Investec Super Rugby match when the Highlanders face the Western Force at NIB Stadium in Perth tonight (Saturday NZT).

The Highlanders’ co-captain becomes the 37th player to join the New Zealand Super Rugby centurions club and he will become only the fourth player to achieve 100 Super Rugby games with the Highlanders following in the footsteps of Anton Oliver, Jimmy Cowan and Chris King.

Home-grown hero Ben Smith, who debuted for Otago in 2007, joined the Highlanders in 2009 and quickly became a key member of the team with his uncanny ability to break tackles and elude defenders.  Smith debuted for the All Blacks in that same year against Italy in Milan.  In 2010 he was a member of the New Zealand Sevens team that won gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

As an integral member of the Highlanders team, Smith has only missed two games since the start of the 2013 season (one in 2014 through injury and one in 2015 while being rested). Smith’s exceptional form in 2013 for the Highlanders and particularly for the All Blacks, saw him nominated for five national and international awards, including the IRB Player of the Year.  

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew congratulated Smith on the milestone.

“Ben is a hard worker in both the All Blacks and Highlanders environment.  There is no question that he trains and works hard to earn his place in any team, and he is incredibly entertaining to watch.  And you can’t help but get the feeling that we are still to see the best from him.

“Congratulations to Ben – he’s a fantastic ambassador for the game and for New Zealand Rugby,” Tew said.

Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, “Ben is one of the most professional players I have ever encountered. He’s a very self-aware, self-confident player who performs consistently at the highest level”.   

Highlanders’ General Manager Roger Clark added “Ben is such a loyal team member and has played a major role for the Highlanders over his 100 games and we hope he continues for many more. It’s great to have a local player achieving this milestone”.

Ben Smith, when asked during the week about this weekend’s achievement commented that “I’m pumped to play 100 games, particularly in such an important game for the team. It’s come around really quickly, it’s been a privilege to play with my mates in my home town”.

Smith will be presented with a pounamu mere – the New Zealand Rugby gift for centurions - next week in Invercargill when the Highlanders take on the Chiefs in round 16 of the Investec Super Rugby Competition.

 

For further information contact:

Highlanders Media Manager:
Amanda Gould 021 223 8440

or

Juli Clausen
Senior Media Advisor
D: +64 (0)4 474 7276
M: +64 (0)27 570 70 45
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Highlanders team has been named to take on the Force in Perth on Saturday night. There are only a couple of changes to the starting line-up that scored four tries in 25 minutes against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend. Both Waisake Naholo and Shaun Treeby return from injury to the starting team with Naholo back on the wing and Treeby coming into the second-five position. Utility back, Richard Buckman, moves to cover on the bench and the forward/back split returns to the standard 5:3. Elliot Dixon is unavailable for selection this week returning back to New Zealand for the the birth of his first child pending.

This will be the third game on the road for the Highlanders as they look to firm up their position heading into the final rounds of the 2015 Investec Super Rugby competition. After playing the Force the team then heads home to play the Chiefs in Invercargill on Saturday 30th May in what is shaping up as an exciting encounter with the teams currently on even points.

Co-Captain, Ben Smith, will achieve a Super Rugby century when he takes the field on Saturday night and becomes only the fourth Highlander to rack up 100 games all wearing the Highlanders jersey. Loose forward, and Highlanders stalwart, John Hardie will also achieve a milestone on Saturday playing his 50th Super Rugby game for the Highlanders.

Force v Highlanders, NIB Stadium, Perth – Saturday 23rd May, 11.45pm (NZT)
1. Brendon Edmonds
2. Liam Coltman
3. Josh Hohneck
4. Alex Ainley
5. Mark Reddish
6. Gareth Evans
7. John Hardie
8. Nasi Manu (Co-C)
9. Aaron Smith
10. Lima Sopoaga
11. Patrick Osborne
12. Shaun Treeby
13. Malakai Fekitoa
14. Waisake Naholo
15. Ben Smith (Co-C)
Reserves:
16. Ash Dixon
17. Daniel Lienert-Brown
18. Ross Geldenhuys
19. Tom Franklin
20. Dan Pryor
21. Fumiaki Tanaka
22. Richard Buckman
23. Marty Banks

Unavailable: Shane Christie (hamstring), Hayden Parker (shoulder), Joe Wheeler (knee), Kane Hames (knee)

Head Coach: Jamie Joseph Assistant Coaches: Tony Brown, Scott McLeod Manager: Paul McLaughlan

For further information contact Amanda Gould 021 223 8440

 

Two players making their Super Rugby debut and a six forward, two back split on the reserves bench are features of the Highlanders’ team named to play the Cheetahs. The debutants are Tasman lock Alex Ainley who comes into the side for Tom Franklin, and Hawkes Bay winger Ryan Tongia who replaces the injured Waisake Naholo. Ainley, a seasoned ITM cup campaigner, returns from a fractured jaw sustained playing club rugby two months ago, while league convert, Ryan Tongia, makes the team after less than a year in the game. The only other change is at openside where John Hardie replaces Dan Pryor.

Cheetahs v Highlanders, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein - Sunday 17th May, 5.10am (NZT)
1.   Brendon Edmonds
2.   Liam Coltman
3.   Josh Hohneck6 
4.   Alex Ainley
5.   Mark Reddish
6.   Gareth Evans
7.   John Hardie
8.   Nasi Manu (c)
9.   Aaron Smith
10. Lima Sopoaga
11. Patrick Osborne
12. Richard Buckman
13. Malakai Fekitoa
14. Ryan Tongia
15. Ben Smith (c)

Reserves:
16. Ash Dixon
17. Daniel Lienert-Brown
18. Ross Geldenhuys
19. Tom Franklin
20. Elliot Dixon
21. Dan Pryor
22. Fumiaki Tanaka
23. Marty Banks

Unavailable: Shane Christie (hamstring) Hayden Parker (shoulder) Joe Wheeler (knee) Kane Hames (knee) Waisake Naholo (foot)

Head Coach: Jamie Joseph

Assistant Coaches: Tony Brown, Scott McLeod

Manager: Paul McLaughlan

This week Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has made four changes to the starting forward pack following the loss to Brumbies on the road in round 11. Josh Hohneck returns to tighthead prop, Mark Reddish has recovered from injury to replace Joe Wheeler who suffered a grade 3 MCL tear last week and both Gareth Evans and Dan Pryor make the starting team. The Highlanders three All Blacks, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa return to the field after their one round rest and the versatile Richard Buckman comes into the second-five position to cover for Shaun Treeby.

Highlanders v Sharks, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin – Friday 1st May, 7.35pm (NZT)

1.   Kane Hames

2.   Liam Coltman

3.   Josh Hohneck

4.   Tom Franklin

5.   Mark Reddish

6.   Gareth Evans

7.   Dan Pryor

8.   Nasi Manu (co-Captain)

9.   Aaron Smith

10. Lima Sopoaga

11. Patrick Osborne

12. Richard Buckman

13. Malakai Fekitoa

14. Waisake Naholo

15. Ben Smith (co-Captain)

 

Reserves:

16. Ash Dixon

17. Brendon Edmonds

18. Pingi Tala’apitaga

19. Joe Latta

20. Elliot Dixon

21. Fumiaki Tanaka

22. Marty Banks

23. Jason Emery

 

Unavailable:  Shane Christie (hamstring), Ross Geldenhuys (thumb), Daniel Lienert-Brown (knee), John Hardie (ankle), Hayden Parker (shoulder), Alex Ainley (jaw),  Shaun Treeby (ankle), Joe Wheeler (knee)

 Head Coach: Jamie Joseph  Assistant Coaches: Tony Brown, Scott McLeod  Manager: Paul McLaughlan

 

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Highlanders’ Head Coach Jamie Joseph has overhauled his team for this Friday’s game against the Brumbies, making six changes to the side that beat the Blues. All three Highlander All Blacks have been omitted as the Highlanders fulfil the obligation to rest their All Blacks for at least two games this season. Added to that a mounting injury list including seven forwards unavailable for this fixture means that the Highlanders’ depth will certainly be put to the test in Canberra.

Pingi Tala’apitaga earns a start with Josh Hohneck moving to the bench. Tom Franklin returns to the starting team for the injured Mark Reddish. In the backs Trent Renata will make his 2015 debut at fullback while, Japanese international, Fumiaki Tanaka replaces Aaron Smith at halfback. Shaun Treeby and Richard Buckman will combine for the first time in the midfield. Gareth Evans returns to the playing 23 on the reserves bench that features a 6:2 split with lock Joe Latta and halfback Josh Renton poised to make their Super Rugby debuts.

Both teams’ jerseys will feature poppies in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli and Anzac Day.

Brumbies v Highlanders, GIO Stadium, Canberra – Friday 24th April, 9.55pm* (NZT)
*delayed start time due to ANZAC commemorations

1. Kane Hames
2. Liam Coltman
3. Pingi Tala’apitaga
4. Tom Franklin
5. Joe Wheeler
6. Elliot Dixon
7. James Lentjes
8. Nasi Manu (C)
9. Fumiaki Tanaka
10. Lima Sopoaga
11. Patrick Osborne
12. Shaun Treeby
13. Richard Buckman
14. Waisake Naholo
15. Trent Renata

Reserves:
16. Ash Dixon
17. Brendon Edmonds
18. Josh Hohneck
19. Joe Latta
20. Gareth Evans
21. Dan Pryor
22. Josh Renton
23. Jason Emery

Unavailable: Shane Christie (hamstring), Ross Geldenhuys (thumb), Daniel Lienert-Brown (knee), John Hardie (ankle), Hayden Parker (shoulder), Alex Ainley (jaw), Mark Reddish (ankle)

Head Coach: Jamie Joseph
Assistant Coaches: Tony Brown, Scott McLeod
Manager: Paul McLaughlan

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