After all, since Sopoaga went down with a hamstring injury against the Blues in round three, Banks has been instrumental in a franchise-record seven-match winning streak.
The first-five eighth, who had his nose busted against the Bulls last weekend, came off the bench to kick the Highlanders to a crunch win against the Brumbies in round five, and has started each of the six games since.
Banks’ play - including nailing his first 24 kicks at goal this season - hasn’t escaped Highlanders assistant coach Mark Hammett ahead of the team’s match against the Western Force in Perth on Friday night (CI time).
“Marty has been outstanding for us in the time [Sopoaga] has been away, so now it’s for Lima to stake his claim, I suppose, and get that position back,” he said.
“We know what an excellent player Lima is. He’s a great leader and he manages the game and the game plan well. We’re stoked to have him back.”
Sopoaga is one of a bunch of injured All Blacks, including Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg and Hurricanes wing Nehe Milner-Skudder, in need of game time if they are to prove they deserve to be part of the three-test series against the British and Irish Lions in June and July.
Highlanders coach Tony Brown last week said Sopoaga would “more than likely” return off the bench against the Force.
Should he remain fit, he will have three Super Rugby games to put his hand up for national selection