Highlanders co-captain and All Blacks stalwart Ben Smith has overcome an ankle injury to play in his Super Rugby side's clash with the Waratahs in Dunedin.

The 30-year-old Smith has struggled for game time in 2017 after suffering a concussion in round one against the Chiefs and then an ankle strain in last month's 57-14 thumping of the Stormers.

He missed his side's perfect tour of South Africa and Perth as a result, and has made just six appearances this season.

But the 60-cap fullback has been named to start on Saturday, in what will be a record-equalling 127th Landers appearance and a key step towards full fitness for next month's British and Irish Lions Test series.

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HIGHLANDERS: Ben Smith (co-capt), Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Richard Buckman, Tevita Li, Marty Banks, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, Dillon Hunt, Elliot Dixon, Tom Franklin, Alex Ainley, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Aki Seiuli. RESERVES: Ash Dixon (co-capt), Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Joe Wheeler, Gareth Evans, Kayne Hammington, Lima Sopoaga, Rob Thompson.