Experienced All Blacks centre Conrad Smith is out of this Saturday's third test match against England in Hamilton with a broken thumb.
Smith was found to have a fracture in his right thumb, which he had described as being sore after last weekend's 28-27 second test win in Dunedin.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said Smith would be out of action for five to six weeks with a similar but not exactly same fracture as that suffered earlier in the season by Chiefs and All Blacks first five-eighth Aaron Cruden.
''What we thought was only a muscle injury has turned out to be a broken bone for Conrad Smith in his thumb so he won't be considered for Saturday unfortunately,'' Hansen said.
The coach was not giving anything away on Smith's likely replacement for the final test at Waikato Stadium on Saturday night, other than saying it would be between Malakai Fekitoa and Ryan Crotty for the No13 jersey with the decision to be made on Thursday.
When asked which way he and his fellow selectors were leaning and if they had a clear idea of who would be given the nod Hansen said: ''Probably, but we don't need to tell England who we're going for at this stage.''
They felt Fekitoa, the exciting 22-year-old out of the Highlanders, had been playing well and it was just a matter of whether they believed he was ready to start a test match.
''Ryan's been there and done that and been in the atmosphere so that's what it will come down to - whether we think Malakai's ready to start or not,'' he said.
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