Family members, friends and rugby teammates have shared an emotional farewell to All Black and Highlanders great Ben Smith ahead of potentially his final week with the franchise.

Smith has been with the Highlanders for more than 10 years but with their Super Rugby playoff hopes looking slim, this Friday's game against the Waratahs could be his last in blue.

In a video on the Highlanders' official Facebook page, those close to Smith shared heartwarming tributes to the fullback.

"We're so proud of you and it's just been an inspiration to all the young ones coming through," said Smith's dad Stu.


"It's been a fantastic journey right through Otago, the Highlanders, the All Blacks. You're amazing on and off the field. We love ya."

"What a journey you've had Ben," added his mum Karen. "And you've taken us the whole way with you. We've loved every minute of it. We've met so many cool people. You've done so many amazing things. You're an amazing dad."

Smith's partner Katie and his two kids Walter and Annabelle also shared a cute message.

"We're so proud of you for so many reasons," said Katie. "For all that you've done with rugby but also for how awesome you've been as a daddy."

Ben Smith is presented a multi-team shirt. Photo / Photosport
Ben Smith is presented a multi-team shirt. Photo / Photosport

The 33-year-old, known as Bender, is headed for French club Pau later this year following the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

He was presented with a multi-team shirt during a special presentation after the Highlanders' draw against the Bulls on Saturday.

The shirt also included colours and emblems of the Otago, Green Island, Highlanders, and Kings High School teams.

Highlanders teammate Ash Dixon said it was a privilege to play alongside Smith.


"Even though you're probably the greatest player to ever play for the Highlanders and one of the greats in New Zealand rugby, you're even a better mate and a great friend," said Dixon.

Smith was the 37th player to join the New Zealand Super Rugby centurions club and 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.

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.

He made his All Blacks in 2009 but didn't become a regular in the side until after the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He's played 75 tests for the All Blacks and 150 for the Highlanders, the first to reach the mark for the franchise.