Folau showdown excites Smith

Date published: June 25 2015

Highlanders full-back and co-captain Ben Smith is relishing his duel with Waratahs counterpart Israel Folau in Saturday's semi-final in Sydney.

The duel between arguably the world's best number 15s is a vital part of the encounter and Smith admitted that neutralising Folau's attacking ability would make the men from Dunedin's task easier.

"He's massive for their game, they get a lot of momentum through him," Smith told NZ Newswire.

"He can off-load because he's a big man but he can glide through defences just as easily.

"They try and run a lot of their plays off the back of him and why wouldn't they? He's one of the most dangerous players in world rugby at the moment and we'll have to stop him."

Folau heads in to the semi-final as the player with the most metres gained on attack (1606 metres) in the tournament which is well clear of the man in second place, Highlanders wing Waisake Naholo (1310m).

That duo and Smith are also among the leading players in categories like clean breaks and defenders beaten which suggests an open, attacking game this weekend.

Despite conceding home ground advantage to the defending champions, the Highlanders head in to the semi-final with some confidence as they beat the Waratahs 26-19 when these teams last met in Dunedin in Round Five of this year's league phase of the competition.

Smith said he expects a tougher assignment this weekend, however, as the Waratahs have improved considerably since that match in March.