Ben Smith Highlanders at peace with gradual return of their key All Blacks trio

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Ben Smith Aaron Smith will be a key figure for the Highlanders after the departure of several All Blacks.

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Aaron Smith will be a key figure for the Highlanders after the departure of several All Blacks.

All Blacks Aaron Smith, Liam Coltman and Shannon Frizell will be on restricted game time at the start of the 2020 Super Rugby season, depriving the revamped Highlanders of yet more experience, but the Dunedin-based franchise has acknowledged that the All Blacks rest program remains a necessary evil in a crowded rugby calendar.

The trio’s return to rugby will be governed by the ’40-60-80 minute’ principle, the Highlanders have confirmed, signalling that they will not make their full comebacks until round four of Super Rugby in 2020, against the Crusaders in Christchurch (the Highlanders have the bye in round one).

Ben Smith Liam Coltman was excellent for the All Blacks off the bench in the bronze medal match against Wales at the Rugby World Cup.

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Liam Coltman was excellent for the All Blacks off the bench in the bronze medal match against Wales at the Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks will also sit out two games during the season but the Highlanders have adopted a realistic attitude to the-now familiar scenario.

“You don’t to injure them,” Highlanders CEO Roger Clark told Stuff. “The trouble is that they come in late [mid January].

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* Supe

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