Smith admits he should have taken time off after toilet tryst

Smith will this week celebrate playing his 100th Super Rugby game for the Highlanders when they take on the Melbourne Rebels in Dunedin.

He received a formal warning and stood down from an All Blacks test in October after he was seen entering a toilet cubical with a woman at Christchurch Airport.

He later said he made a huge mistake and apologised to his partner, both his and her families, his teammates and New Zealand fans.

Smith struggled on the All Blacks end of year tour.

Highlanders come back in Canberra

Trailing for most of a match that made up for a lack of quality with plenty of commitment, replacement Highlanders prop Aki Seiuli barrelled over under the posts in the 73rd minute for a converted try that proved to be the difference.

The Brumbies then set about utilising their favourite attacking ploy, the driving maul off a lineout, in a frantic finale, but the visitors held firm on three occasions to either draw a penalty or force a turnover to keep their lead intact.

Hurricanes wallop Highlanders

The 2016 champions ran in seven tries to two against their injury-ravaged opponents, who struggled to make inroads through makeshift first-five Fletcher Smith.

The decision to play Ardie Savea at No.8 paid dividends as the Test loose forward claimed a try and seven tackles, while the physical midfield duo of Ngani Laumape and Matt Proctor stood out.

They'll take a week off before travelling to Brisbane to take on the Reds, while the Highlanders will lick their wounds before tussling with the Brumbies.

Malakai Fekitoa finding his stride

In fact, the 24-year-old, 23-test centre has a good feeling about what lies around the corner, both for himself and the southern franchise that on Saturday night scraped out a much-needed first victory of the Super Rugby season on Eden Park against the Blues.

Highlanders survive late pressure to beat Blues 16-12

Test centre Malakai Fekitoa's 18th-minute effort on the right edge was the only try in the four-point triumph, as both sides struggled in the Auckland wet.

Balls were dropped left, right and centre by both teams, while the Highlanders conceded 18 turnovers and the Blues gave up 23.

But the injury-ravaged Highlanders eventually ground out the win, relying on the kicking game of playmakers Lima Sopoaga and Aaron Smith to guide them home.

"It's just an awesome effort from the boys," skipper Elliot Dixon said.

Blues call up their ABs

Having used a talent-stacked bench without fruition against the Chiefs last week after being reduced to 14 men for more than half the game, Coach Tana Umaga has given his stars a chance from the opening whistle in this key Kiwi derby.

Co-captains James Parsons and Jerome Kaino are named in the pack that also sees prop Charlie Faumuina and lock Patrick Tuipulotu in the starting eight.

There's a further change in the forwards with North Harbour newcomer Murphy Taramai to make his first Super Rugby start at No 8, meaning Akira Ioane drops to the bench.

Highlanders injury list grows

Emery's injury occurred while playing for the Highlanders second string team the Bravehearts against the Crusader Knights in the curtain-raiser to Saturday night's match.

He will miss the entire as he rehabs the injury post-surgery.

Emery joins first five-eighth Hayden Parker on the sideline for 2017 and continues a horror run of injuries for the Highlanders.

Crusaders stun Highlanders

The Crusaders, like thieves in the night, stormed back from a 27-6 deficit to win 30-27 in Dunedin on Saturday night.

Crusaders wing Seta Tamanivalu snatched the win, which seemed most unlikely even 15 minutes earlier, when he streaked down the right-hand sideline and touched down with a couple of minutes to play.

His try followed late five-pointers to David Havili and Whetu Douglas, with Douglas' and Tamanivalu's winner coming inside the final five minutes, and after the Highlanders had been reduced to 14 men on the back of a Malakai Fekitoa yellow card. 

Chiefs win in Dunedin

James Lowe pounced on two wayward passes while Hika Elliot took advantage of a day-dreaming defence to give the visitors the victory over a wasteful home side, who lost All Blacks fullback Ben Smith to a head injury.

Winger Lowe intercepted first-half passes from All Blacks Aaron Smith and Waisake Naholo, while hooker Elliot finished a well-worked lineout move in the second as the Chiefs ended a six-game losing streak to the Highlanders dating back to 2014.

Highlanders name five debutants to take on Chiefs

Prop Siate Tokolahi and winger Tevita Li start, while Adrian Smith, Guy Millar and Kayne Hammington are in the reserves.

Coach Tony Brown will start all his All Blacks apart from Elliot Dixon who will make his impact from the bench.

They'll field an impressive backline of Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Tevita Li, Rob Thompson, Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Naholo and Ben Smith.

"The recent games against the Chiefs have been cracking games and we expect nothing less this week, the guys are really looking forward to getting out in front of our home fans" said Brown.