Highlander, Smith, to play 100th Super Rugby game

The Highlanders and New Zealand Rugby have congratulated Ben Smith as he prepares to reach his 100th Super Rugby match when the Highlanders face the Western Force at NIB Stadium in Perth.

The Highlanders’ co-captain becomes the 37th player to join the New Zealand Super Rugby centurions club and he will become only the fourth player to achieve 100 Super Rugby games with the Highlanders following in the footsteps of Anton Oliver, Jimmy Cowan and Chris King.

Home-grown hero Ben Smith, who debuted for Otago in 2007, joined the Highlanders in 2009 and quickly became a key member of the team with his uncanny ability to break tackles and elude defenders. Smith debuted for the All Blacks in that same year against Italy in Milan. In 2010 he was a member of the New Zealand Sevens team that won gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

As an integral member of the Highlanders team, Smith has only missed two games since the start of the 2013 season (one in 2014 through injury and one in 2015 while being rested). Smith’s exceptional form in 2013 for the Highlanders and particularly for the All Blacks, saw him nominated for five national and international awards, including the IRB Player of the Year.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew congratulated Smith on the milestone.

“Ben is a hard worker in both the All Blacks and Highlanders environment. There is no question that he trains and works hard to earn his place in any team, and he is incredibly entertaining to watch. And you can’t help but get the feeling that we are still to see the best from him.

“Congratulations to Ben – he’s a fantastic ambassador for the game and for New Zealand Rugby,” Tew said.

Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, “Ben is one of the most professional players I have ever encountered. He’s a very self-aware, self-confident player who performs consistently at the highest level”.

Highlanders’ General Manager Roger Clark added “Ben is such a loyal team member and has played a major role for the Highlanders over his 100 games and we hope he continues for many more. It’s great to have a local player achieving this milestone”.

Ben Smith, when asked during the week about this weekend’s achievement commented that “I’m pumped to play 100 games, particularly in such an important game for the team. It’s come around really quickly, it’s been a privilege to play with my mates in my home town”.

Smith will be presented with a pounamu mere – the New Zealand Rugby gift for centurions – next week in Invercargill when the Highlanders take on the Chiefs in round 16 of the Super Rugby Competition.

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