Ben Smith to fly home after leg infection scare
Highlanders and All Black fullback Ben Smith is expected home tomorrow after spending time in an Australian hospital recovering from a leg infection.
Smith was hospitalised soon after the Highlanders' 44-16 loss to the Waratahs at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Sunday.
Highlanders manager Graham Purvis said Smith had first started to feel unwell after receiving a massage on his leg the day before the game.
The injury was unusual from the point of view that there was no cut showing where the infection might have got into Smith's leg, Purvis said.
''We are hoping to get him back as soon as possible, which will probably be tomorrow morning,'' Purvis said.
The Highlanders' team doctor Greg Macleod had remained in Sydney to keep an eye on Smith's progress and his treatment.
''Obviously with an elite athlete you have to be very careful about what they are taking,'' Purvis said.
Smith has played every minute of the Highlanders season to date and his absence would be a major blow to the team's chances of qualifying for the playoffs.
Purvis said Smith's availability would depend on how quickly he recovered during the week.''We live in hope,'' he said.
The Highlanders haven't needed another fullback option this season, but did play Trent Renata at the back in a game against the NZ Barbarians during the June window.
Kurt Baker would have been another candidate, but he is out with a serious hamstring injury.