Ben Smith will lead Highlanders from the front
February 7, 2014
Ben Smith hopes to replicate his All Blacks form in 2014 © Getty Images
Ben Smith hopes to inspire by deed rather than words as co-captain of the Highlanders this season.
Smith was the form fullback in Super Rugby last year, and the best winger in international rugby before struggling a little as outside centre on the All Blacks' end-of-season tour, so he has enough on his plate simply trying to replicate that form in 2014. But he is now officially a leader in Dunedin after the Highlanders suffered a horror season in 2013; strong pre-season fancies to win the title, they won just three matches to finish above just the relegated Southern Kings on the ladder.
He doesn't feel under pressure, however, returning to the franchise only after a lengthy post-tour break.
"I've got to get out there and play well because that's the best way to lead," Smith told Fairfax Media in New Zealand. "That's the best way to show the young guys how to go about their work," he said.
Smith and Aaron Smith, the only All Blacks in the Highlanders squad, have been eased back into the Highlanders pre-season; they did not play in the win over the Brumbies in Queenstown and won't feature against the Crusaders in Motueka in the second trial.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph says "we've got a saying in our team that it's one to 37, and everyone's got to get an opportunity in our group to perform and stake their claim".
"We've got no superstars - other people might think the two All Blacks are - but not in our team," Joseph told Fairfax Media. "The key for those two All Blacks that we have got is that they prepare themselves properly, both physically and mentally, before they perform and that's why we aren't playing them at the moment."
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