Rugby: Smith in for Cowan at halfback for Highlanders

Aaron Smith. Photo / Getty Images.
Aaron Smith. Photo / Getty Images.

One half starting was apparently enough for Jimmy Cowan, with the All Black back on the bench for the Highlanders' clash against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night.

Aaron Smith, 23, will instead be in the starting role at halfback, as the Highlanders seek to continue their unbeaten start to the Super Rugby season.

Smith started the Highlanders' first three games but was demoted in the southerners' win over the Hurricanes last weekend. Cowan produced a patchy performance and was replaced by Smith at halftime.

Highlanders' coach Jamie Joseph has again opted for Smith as his side play outside of New Zealand for the first time this season in their quest to make it a perfect five wins to open the campaign.

In addition to the swap in the No 9 jersey, Joseph has made five other changes to last weekend's starting XV.

In the forwards, Chris King comes back into the front row replacing Ma'afu Fia, while Culum Retallick, James Haskell and Doug Tietjens all make their run-on debut for the 2012 season. In the backs, Shaun Treeby makes his return from injury at second five-eighth.

The Highlanders team to play the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium in Canberra on Saturday is:

Ben Smith, Kade Poki, Tamati Ellison, Shaun Treeby, Hosea Gear, Colin Slade, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu, Doug Tietjens, James Haskell, Culum Retallick, Josh Bekhuis, Chris King, Andrew Hore, Jamie Mackintosh (c)

Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Bronson Murray, Nick Crosswell, Elliot Dixon, Jimmy Cowan, Chris Noakes, Buxton Popoali'i

- APNZ

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