Smith returns for Highlanders

Date published: April 20 2016

Highlanders co-captain Ben Smith returns to his team's starting line-up for Friday's clash with the Sharks in Dunedin.

Smith has recovered after suffering a concussion, during the Highlanders' last home game against the Force, but has been cleared to play after two weeks rest. 

He takes his place at full-back with Matt Faddes moving to the right wing and Jack Wilson starts on the left wing. 

At inside centre, Rob Thompson, makes way for Jason Emery who will make his seventh appearance – and first start – for the season after impressing off the bench in against the Reds in Brisbane in Round Seven.

Several changes have been made to the pack as the Highlanders anticipate a battle up front with Ash Dixon coming in at hooker and Josh Hohneck and Tom Franklin returning to the starting line-up. 

Elliot Dixon has recovered from his head cut and will team up with in-form Liam Squire and Shane Christie in the loose forwards. Alex Ainley and Craig Millar have been included in the reserves for this game after some impressive club form.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jason Emery, 11 Jack Wilson, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Shane Christie (cc), 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown 
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Alex Ainley, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Patrick Osborne

Date: Friday, April 22
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O'Keefe
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser, Kane McBride
TMO: Shane McDermott