Newshub Super Rugby chat: Aaron Smith's absence key to Highlanders vs Hurricanes

The absence of All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith may have a massive impact on the Super Rugby derby between his Highlanders and the Hurricanes on Friday night.

Smith has been ruled out of the clash - and several subsequent weeks - by an ankle injury and that may be enough to turn the game to the side from the capital, claim Newshub rugbyheads Ross Karl and Ollie Ritchie.

The 'Canes were manhandled by the Crusaders last week, but maybe that just means they're due.

"I think I saw enough from the Hurricanes last week, despite a pretty heavy loss, to suggest they can go OK down in Dunedin," says Ritchie.

"I thought their forward pack held up quite well, when a lot was made of the fact they were up against the 'Rolls Royce' Crusaders forward pack. Traditionally, the Hurricanes forwards aren't strong, but I thought they held their own."

Karl agreed the Highlanders would miss Smith's influence.

"The speed he gives them from the breakdown, the direction… Kayne Hammington's a good player, but he's not Aaron Smith and Marty Banks probably won't get that same service."

Watch the full video for their analysis of all the NZ Super Rugby teams this weekend and join us for live updates.

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