Smith un­ruf­fled over fu­ture

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

WELLING­TON: Full­back Ben Smith has no qualms about sur­ren­der­ing his hold on the All Blacks No 15 jersey next month as he takes a to­tal break from all rugby un­til next year’s Su­per Rugby sea­son.

The 31-year-old will utilise a sab­bat­i­cal clause in his con­tract af­ter the All Blacks’ sec­ond Rugby Cham­pi­onship clash with Aus­tralia in his home­town of Dunedin on Au­gust 26.

“I’m not go­ing to play any rugby at all,” Smith told re­porters in Christchurch, where the All Blacks have been hold­ing a two-day train­ing camp ahead of their opener against the Wal­la­bies in Syd­ney on Au­gust 19.

“It’s a real chance to take a bit of a break from footy and get my body right (and)... gives me an op­por­tu­nity to do some other things that I think will help me.”

Smith said he would take his fam­ily on hol­i­day to Aus­tralia and the United States dur­ing his break.

He had orig­i­nally planned to take the sab­bat­i­cal af­ter his Su­per Rugby com­mit­ments with the High­landers ended this year, but con­cus­sion is­sues had re­stricted his play­ing time and he de­cided to de­lay the be­gin­ning of the break.

The in­juries to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen’s firstchoice full­back forced him to tinker with his back­line against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions. Is­rael Dagg played the sec­ond Test in his pre­ferred po­si­tion at full­back, be­fore rookie Jordie Bar­rett got his first start in the jersey in the third. Chiefs full­back Damian McKen­zie also im­pressed for the sec­ond suc­ces­sive year in Su­per Rugby, but Hansen named him as a fly­half for the train­ing camp and has said the 22-year-old’s fu­ture is likely to be closer to the scrum.

Smith, how­ever, said he was not con­cerned at giv­ing some of the young con­tenders an op­por­tu­nity to usurp him in Hansen’s plan­ning ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Ja­pan.

“There’s al­ways go­ing to be op­por­tu­ni­ties but if I’m good enough I’ll get back, and if I’m not... that’s the beauty of the All Blacks. The best play­ers play,” Smith said.

“I’ve just got to back my­self that with that time I want to be re­ally hum­ming coming into next year. I felt that was the best way to re­ally push for the next cou­ple of years.”

Hansen will name the All Blacks squad for the Rugby Cham­pi­onship next Mon­day. – Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.