Super Rugby: Highlanders co-captain Ben Smith to miss Sunwolves clash

The Highlanders will have to get by without co-captain and fullback Ben Smith against the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Friday night.

Smith has remained in New Zealand while the rest of the squad on Sunday departed Dunedin. It will mark his second - and final - All Blacks enforced rest week. 

Leaving out the 32-year-old All Black against the Sunwolves means he will be able to re-charge at home ahead of the Highlanders' home clash with the Chiefs Saturday week. 

However, the Sunwolves aren't the easy beats of previous years and the Highlanders can expect a heck of a challenge from the Tony Brown coached side. 

The Sunwolves came within a whisker of beating the Hurricanes at home last Friday night, and have already beaten the Chiefs and Waratahs this season. 

Smith took his first All Blacks enforced break in round three, when the fumbling, bumbling Highlanders lost to the Melbourne Rebels on the road. 

Whether or not Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger again opts to start pivot Josh Ioane in Smith's place at the back won't be revealed until Wednesday. 

Cantabrian Josh McKay, who started on the left-wing against the Rebels, is another fullback option.