Highlanders co-captain Ben Smith has been named to start at fullback against the Crusaders in their Super Rugby quarter-final on Friday.

Smith has been battling a hamstring strain for more than a month after leaving the field against the Chiefs on May 4.

The Highlanders have made two other changes to their side that thrashed the Rebels last weekend.

Tevita Li has dropped out of the 23-strong squad making way Patelesio Tomkinson, while Daniel Lienert-Brown will start at prop for Ayden Johnstone.


Smith, who has played more than 150 games for the Highlanders, is playing his final season with the franchise before heading to France after the World Cup to play for Pau.

Highlanders team
1. Daniel Lienert-Brown
2. Liam Coltman
3. Tyrel Lomax
4. Jackson Hemopo
5. Tom Franklin
6. Liam Squire
7. James Lentjes
8. Luke Whitelock (cc)
9. Aaron Smith
10. Josh Ioane
11 Patelesio Tomkinson
12. Teihorangi Walden
13. Rob Thompson
14. Waisake Naholo
15. Ben Smith (cc)

16. Ash Dixon
17. Ayden Johnstone
18. Siate Tokolahi
19. Josh Dickson
20. Shannon Frizell
21. Kayne Hammington
22. Marty Banks
23. Elliot Dixon