Sunday 4 December 2016

All Black Smith sent home over airport toilet incident with 'female friend'

Published 06/10/2016 | 02:30

The world-leading No 9 has been handed a one-match ban by head coach Steve Hansen. Photo: Adrian Dennis
The world-leading No 9 has been handed a one-match ban by head coach Steve Hansen. Photo: Adrian Dennis

New Zealand scrum-half Aaron Smith has been sent home from South Africa after being seen entering a disabled toilet at Christchurch airport with a woman by members of the public.

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The world-leading No 9 (pictured) has been handed a one-match ban by head coach Steve Hansen and the team leadership group, meaning he will miss the final Rugby Championship game against the Springboks.

The ban will not affect his availability for the two meetings between Ireland and the world champions next month, but has cast a shadow over the All Blacks' attempt to break the world record for successive wins.

"On the Sunday in Christchurch after the South African Test at Christchurch airport, Aaron and a female friend were seen by members of the public to enter the disabled toilets," Hansen said.

"On our arrival to South Africa on Monday we were informed on this. I had a conversation with Aaron who confirmed the story.

"As a result of this the leadership group met and were unanimous in the fact the behaviour wasn't acceptable and as a consequence a one-match suspension would be put in place.

Bitterly

"Aaron is bitterly disappointed in his behaviour and feels he has let the team down but just as importantly he feels bitterly disappointed in letting his family and his partner down.

"He has asked to go home to deal with the personal matters that have come with this incident and we are happy to support him with that."

Meanwhile, Andrew Trimble reckons Ireland will be the better for the next month's bruising club schedule as the rugby season ramps up.

Each province has two rounds of interpros and a pair of European pool games to take care of before they travel to Chicago to take on the All Blacks for the first of two meetings next month.

Ulster winger Trimble has yet to play this season as a result of a foot injury and is unlikely to feature against Connacht tomorrow night. Although he has struggled with a foot problem before, he says it is an unrelated issue.

Despite that, he was included in Joe Schmidt's pre-November training camp on Monday.

"The camp went really well," he said. "Although the opportunity to play the All Blacks, who you haven't beaten in your 112-year history, is in the back of your head, it is a few weeks down the line and you won't get there if you don't play well in the white shirt.

"The coming games are as good as springboard as you can have."

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