Monday 24 October 2016

All Black Smith a doubt for Ireland game

Ian Ransom

Published 18/10/2016 | 02:30

Smith: 'voluntarily' withdrew from All Blacks squad for Australia game Photo: AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
Smith: 'voluntarily' withdrew from All Blacks squad for Australia game Photo: AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS

All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith looks to be a doubt for the clash with Ireland in Chicago next month after he "voluntarily" stood down from Saturday's final Bledisloe Cup match against Australia and received an official warning from New Zealand Rugby as fall-out from his airport toilet tryst continues.

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Smith was suspended for the All Blacks' final Rugby Championship match against South Africa a week ago and flew home following embarrassing revelations of a liaison with a woman in a disabled toilet at Christchurch airport.

The 27-year-old - who tearily apologised to his partner and team-mates after the scandal sparked a media storm in his homeland - faced a two-hour disciplinary hearing yesterday.

The hearing's panel, chaired by NZR general manager Rugby Neil Sorensen, concluded his actions amounted to "serious misconduct" given the impact on "the reputation of All Blacks jersey and the commercial partners".

"He will voluntarily stand down from assembling with the All Blacks for this weekend's Bledisloe Cup test match," NZR said in a statement, adding that Smith would also forfeit his "selection fees".

Smith, a regular for the All Blacks in the last three seasons, has earned 54 caps since making his debut in 2012 and was a part of the World Cup-winning team last year. NZR said he was committed to getting the support "he needs to deal with personal issues and to work on his relationship with his partner".

"Aaron presented himself as genuine, honest and incredibly remorseful," Sorensen said. "We have also taken into account the fact that the very public nature of this incident, has had a significant impact on him personally."

Smith's continued absence means TJ Perenara is likely to hold onto the No 9 shirt for the match at Eden Park following his dominant two-try performance in the 57-15 demolition of the Springboks in Durban.

Irish Independent

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