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    Highlanders' favourite son NOT returning for new NZ Aotearoa tournament

    2020-05-17 22:38

    Former All Blacks and Highlanders star Ben Smith has confirmed he will not be returning to the franchise for New Zealand's new Super Rugby Aotearoa tournament.

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    Smith is back in Dunedin having returned from France as Covid-19 brought the sport to a halt worldwide, but poured cold water on areport he was to make a surprise return to the Highlanders for next month's 13 June resumption.

    "Super Rugby Aotearoa looks like a great concept," Smith posted on Instagram.

    "I'm looking forward to supporting the Highlanders and watching them give it a crack. I'm not sure where the speculation has come from but I won't be playing in this year's competition."

    But Smith may be seen on a lesser rugby field in Dunedin if club rugby resumes soon.

    "I'm looking forward to getting alongside my club side in Green Island and getting back to grassroots where it all started," Smith added.

    Smith played over 150 matches for the Highlanders in Super Rugby and 84 Tests for the All Blacks before heading to Pau in France after last year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

    Meanwhile, former All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder was announced last week as a Highlanders signing for the new competition, while All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock will boost the Crusaders after returning from Japan.

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