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15 Dec 2017 23:03
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  •   Home > News > Environment

    Ben Smith returns in Highlanders loss

    Highlanders and All Blacks stalwart Ben Smith has made a successful comeback from concussion in Saturday's 41-15 loss to the Hurricanes.


    All Blacks fullback Ben Smith has emerged unscathed from his return to the field in the Highlanders' 41-15 loss to the Hurricanes.

    The 30-year-old Test vice skipper was briefly knocked out and suffered concussion in his side's Super Rugby round one loss to the Chiefs, causing him to sit out derbies against the Crusaders and Blues.

    But he pulled the boots back on against last year's champions on Saturday, making 18 carries, six line breaks and two offloads as his side were soundly beaten.

    His straightforward return will be music to the ears of All Blacks selectors, who have already watched on in horror as outside backs Israel Dagg, Waisake Naholo and Nehe Milner-Skudder went down with injury.

    "Last week I started training without doing contact and this week did a bit of contact," the 60-cap Smith told Sky Sports NZ.

    "Once I did that, I had good confidence I could get out there and help the team."

    Smith had previously told reporters he suffered memory loss in the wake of the concussion, caused by banging his head on the turf after contesting a high ball with Chiefs counterpart Damian McKenzie.

    Head coach Tony Brown was pleased to have his most dangerous attacking weapon fit and firing again, despite the blowout scoreline.

    He said his side made far too many errors across the board in the final 20 minutes, conceding four five-pointers and failing to keep a hold of the ball.

    Fresh head knocks to Malakai Fekitoa and stand-in playmaker Fletcher Smith further soured the result, as the injury-ravaged Landers look ahead to next week's clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.

    Brown said Smith and the rest of his squad would adopt a business-as-usual approach despite already missing Naholo, Lima Sopoaga, Liam Squire and James Lentjes.

    "That's the first game really, (Ben) only played 10 minutes before getting knocked out," Brown told reporters.

    "He's a champion for us.

    "He's going to give our team a lot of confidence and we'll only get better."

    © 2017 NZN, NZCity


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