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When asked for the highlight of his rugby career Ben Smith doesn't hesitate and it's not winning the Rugby World Cup as you might expect. He speaks to Paul Dwyer about his career for the Highlanders in the second part of a four part interview.
Smith said it was an "easy" choice picking the Highlanders winning Super Rugby in 2015 as his career highlight.
- Part One: Ben Smith thought his first game for Otago would be his last
- Smith 'extremely' disappointed to miss game
The win was the fulfilment of "so much hard" work and came despite a lot of people thinking the Highlanders did not stand a chance even after making it into the final against the Hurricanes.
The only thing "similar" to the feeling in the Highlanders' dressing room after the game was the feeling after the All Blacks won the World Cup in 2015.
Smith also talked to Dywer about the changes in culture at the Highlanders since his debut and credited coaches Jaimie Joseph and Tony Brown, as well as Simon Culhane, with building what became a strong culture at the club.
He questioned Joseph's approach to training at first, but as he got older realised the extreme workout he put players through was worth it.
Once Brown arrived he added a "wee bit more" on top of what Joseph had already added to the team and the "random moves" he brought to the backline gave the team a point of difference.
Smith also talked about the lows of the 2013 season when the Highlanders failed to perform despite signing superstars like Ma'a Nonu and Brad Thorn.
He said looking at the team sheet at the start of the season half the team was thinking "right when are these playoffs?" before the team had earned the right to be there.
He said the team perhaps lost some of its "old school values", but pointed out that it was on the losing side of quite a few close games.