All Blacks and Highlanders fullback Ben Smith has been ruled out for 6-8 weeks with a high hamstring injury.
Smith picked up the injury in the last ten minutes of their match against the Chiefs.
It was initially feared that it was a serious knee injury, but luckily not.
Highlanders assistant coach Glenn Delaney confirmed Smith was out for this period and said it was a blow to Smith and the Highlanders team. The side would look to play Matt Faddes or Josh McKay at fullback.
The 32-year-old will leave for France after the World Cup, so he might have played his last match for his beloved Highlanders.
Smith has made his Super Rugby debut during 2009 and has since played in over 150 games.
All Blacks management can breathe a sigh of relief as this injury won’t rule Smith out of the World Cup.
With Damien McKenzie already ruled out, Smith’s presence has become even more valuable.
Yes, the young Jordie Barrett can slot in at the number 15 jersey, but he is not in the class of Smith yet.
Barrett is a certain pick for the World Cup squad as he can cover almost everywhere in the back line.
Smith is probably the best under the high ball. His counter attacking skills are superb and his defence is solid.
Smith made his international debut on 14 November 2009 against Italy in Milan and has since played in 75 test matches.
His experience will be vital for an All Black side looking to win their fourth title and third in a row.
Written by Carl Coertzen
Image: NZ Herald