Smith out of Crusaders clash
Canterbury - Highlanders fullback Ben Smith will miss Saturday's conference-deciding derby against the Crusaders with a leg infection, the Dunedin-based Super Rugby franchise said on Thursday.
The 28-year-old suffered a superficial graze in Sunday's 44-16 thumping by the competition-leading New South Wales Waratahs which subsequently left him with the infection.
"Unfortunately co-captain Ben Smith will not be in the playing 23 as he continues to recover from a leg infection that saw him hospitalised for three days following last weekend's game," the team said in a statement.
It will be the first Highlanders' game the All Blacks fullback has missed since April 2012.
Trent Renata would start in his place at fullback.
The Highlanders can snatch the New Zealand conference from the Crusaders' grasp if they score four or more tries in a victory by more than seven points, while denying their opponents a bonus point.