All Blacks fullback Smith returns from concussion

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - All Blacks fullback Ben Smith has been cleared of concussion symptoms and returned to the Otago Highlanders side for their Super Rugby clash with the Wellington Hurricanes on Saturday.

Smith was injured in the opening week of the competition against the Waikato Chiefs when he contested a high kick and fell awkwardly to the ground.

He missed the Highlanders' 30-27 loss to the Canterbury Crusaders and 16-12 victory over the Auckland Blues.

Smith's return to the field will be welcomed by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who has watched on as a series of contenders for the British and Irish Lions tour in June have been injured in the early rounds of the season.

Both Israel Dagg (knee) and Nehe Milner-Skudder (foot), who like Smith can play fullback or on the wing, have been ruled out for up to six weeks, putting their returns around late April.

Waisake Naholo and Lima Sopoaga have also been ruled out indefinitely for the Highlanders after suffering hamstring injuries.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ian Ransom)