RUGBY: Highlanders halfback Aaron Smith will play his 100th Super Rugby game against the Rebels on Friday night, in a starting side featuring five changes.
Smith debuted in 2011 against the Bulls in Pretoria and has been a regular ever since.
Renowned as one of the best passing halfbacks in the game, the 62-Test All Black will become the fifth Highlanders player to crack the ton behind Anton Oliver (127), Jimmy Cowan (108), Chris King (106) and Ben Smith (123).
"Aaron has been the best nine in the world for some time now and is such an important part of our game," Highlanders coach Tony Brown said.
"It's fantastic that he gets to clock up a 100 games for the club.
"He joins a small group of amazing rugby players and he deserves his place in that company.
"He's earned his selection in every one of those 100 games through hard work and consistency of performance."
Smith will partner Marty Banks in the halves as Fletcher Smith drops to the bench while Tevita Li returns on the right wing in place of Sio Tomkinson.
In the pack, prop Aki Seiuli, lock Joe Wheeler and flanker Gareth Evans get starts as Daniel Lienert-Brown, Alex Ainley and Elliot Dixon get a breather.
Former NRL player Tupou Sopoaga - the brother of injured Highlanders five-eighth Lima - has been named on the bench after moving across the ditch from Sydney as injury cover.
Lima Sopoaga heads an incredible injury list also including Liam Squire, Shane Christie, Ash Dixon, Dan Pryor, Waisake Naholo, Adrian Smith, James Lentjes, Jason Emery and Hayden Parker.