Banks on way to replace Walden

Highlanders Marty Banks (R) and Lima Sopoaga celebrate their team's win over the British and...
Marty Banks celebrates the Highlanders' 2017 win over the British and Irish Lions with Lima Sopoaga. Photo: Getty Images
Marty Banks appears to be an unlikely starter for the Highlanders this week despite making the long trek to Cape Town.

The first five-eighth has been whistled up by the Highlanders to take the place of midfield back Tei Walden, who is returning to Dunedin.

Walden came off just before halftime in the match against the Lions in Johannesburg for a head injury assessment. He did not return to the field.

A statement from the Highlanders yesterday said Walden was returning to New Zealand while Banks was set to head to South Africa.

Banks is coming back from a broken foot which he sustained in the match against the Hurricanes in Dunedin on April 5.

With limited options for the Highlanders in the midfield after Richard Buckman was ruled out for the season, Banks has been called up.

But with the long flight to Cape Town and not having played for seven weeks, it is unlikely Banks will start the game.

Strictly seen as a No10, Banks may come in to the match-day squad to play the Stormers as a replacement.

Walden is likely to be replaced by Thomas Umaga-Jensen for the match against the Stormers although there is also the option of bringing in Sio Tomkinson from the wing and starting him in midfield.

Waisake Naholo is expected to come back on to the wing after his lengthy absence from the side because of a knee injury.

Banks may be a chance for a place on the bench as Dan Hollinshead only made his debut at this level last weekend against the Lions.

Walden will have some time to recover from his head knock.

The Highlanders have a bye after the Stormers game and then play the Bulls at Forsyth Barr Stadium on June 7.

Meanwhile, All Black coach Steve Hansen said yesterday Ben Smith was making progress with his hamstring injury.

Hansen, speaking at a players day camp in Auckland, said Smith was back running.

They did not want to rush him but it was looking positive. The fullback looked likely to miss the rest of the regular season for the Highlanders when he suffered the Injury at the start of the month.

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