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Ben Smith may have played his last game for the Highlanders.
The classy All Black outside back was expected to be named in the Highlanders' line-up for Friday night's match against the Waratahs in Invercargill.
But he has been ruled out. The Highlanders playoffs prospects are best described as hopeful, so we may have seen the last of Smith in a Highlanders' jersey.
The co-captain's troublesome hamstring has not recovered sufficiently enough for him to take his place in the 23 despite training with the team this week.
"Ben worked extremely hard to be available for his team this week, unfortunately he is still a little short of being match ready,'' coach Aaron Mauger said.
Hooker Liam Coltman will play his 100th game for the team when he takes the field.
Coltman, who has only missed one game this year, has been in outstanding form all season and was recently voted player of the year at the club's awards night.
Tei Walden is restored to the midfield and Daniel Lienert-Brown and Elliot Dixon will form part of a six/two: forward/back reserve bench for what is shaping as a season defining game for the Highlanders.
Their playoff aspirations rely on a strong winning performance against the Waratahs.
If they achieve five points from the match, they will have to anxiously await other results throughout the weekend.