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Ben Smith back with Highlanders in Queenstown

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Lynn McConnell     31 Jan 2018     Getty Images

Having undergone significant personnel changes since last season, the Highlanders will be reintroducing fullback Ben Smith to top play after his sabbatical during the latter half of the 2017 season.

He has been named co-captain of the side again, sharing the duties with Maori All Blacks captain and hooker Ash Dixon.

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Mauger, who is having his first outing with his new side, said he was looking forward to the contest and what it will deliver.

"There is plenty of competition within the team. Some guys there who have a bit of experience and then there are some new guys. We'll see how they go in the next couple of games and learn a bit about them," he said.

The Highlanders will field an extended squad of 32 for the game. Debutants include Tyrel Lomax, Pari Pari Parkinson, Shannon Frizzell, Josh Ioane and Tevita Nabura who will start while prop Kalolo Tuiloma and outside back Josh McKay will be on the bench.

It is also expected injury replacements, Terrance Hepetema at centre and loose forward Marino Mikaele Tu'u will have chances to play as well.
The Waratahs will field a 27-man team with new signing and Wallaby outside back Curtis Rona to make his debut. The game will be played in three 30-minute spells at the Queenstown Recreation Ground and will kick off at 6pm.

After competing in the Brisbane Tens, the Highlanders will complete their pre-season programme by playing the Crusaders at Waimumu, near Gore on February 15.

The team to play the Waratahs is: 1.Aki Seiuli, 2.Greg Pleasants-Tate, 3.Tyrel Lomax, 4.Pari Pari Parkinson, 5.Josh Dickson, 6.Shannon Frizell, 7.Dillon Hunt, 8.Adam Knight, 9.Josh Renton, 10.Josh Ioane, 11.Tevita Nabura, 12.Teihorangi Walden, 13.Terrance Hepetema, 14.Josh Timu, 15.Ben Smith.

Substitutes: 16.Ash Dixon, 17.Guy Millar, 18.Kalolo Tuiloma, 19.Siate Tokolahi, 20.Jackson Hemopo, 21.Kayne Hammington, 22.Fletcher Smith, 23.Ryan Tongia, 24.Flynn Thomas, 25.Daniel Lienert-Brown, 26.Tom Franklin, 27.Dan Pryor, 28.Marino Mikaele Tu'u, 29.Rob Thompson, 30.Matt Faddes, 31.Tevita Li, 32.Josh McKay.

2018 pre-season schedule
Chiefs v Blues, 4pm, Friday 2 February, Te Kuiti
Crusaders v Hurricanes, 5.30pm, Friday 2 February, Greymouth
Highlanders v Waratahs, 6pm, Friday 2 February, Queenstown
Brisbane Global Rugby Tens (all teams), 9-10 February, Brisbane
Brumbies v Chiefs, Wednesday 14 February (time TBC), Sunshine Coast
Highlanders v Crusaders, 6pm, Thursday 15 February, Waimumu
Hurricanes v Blues, time TBC, Thursday 15 February, Auckland