ABs' centre of excellence endorses Ben Smith

MARC HINTON
Last updated 05:00 08/09/2013
Conrad Smith Ben Smith
Getty Images

SMITH AND SMITH: Conrad Smith (right) hugs Ben Smith after he scored against Ireland last season. Ben Smith could switch to centre for the All Blacks' November tour, with Conrad Smith set to take a break.

Relevant offers

All Blacks

Brodie Retallick the All Blacks' driving force in 2014 Rugby-free holiday for All Blacks coach Steve Hansen Awe and envy in Europe over Dan Carter's lucrative contract with Racing Metro Post-World Cup exodus of All Blacks stars doesn’t concern NZRU boss Steve Tew All Black star Dan Carter won't fade lightly into the night Knowler: Dan Carter deal a gamble for Racing Metro Money the big factor in Dan Carter's move to Racing Metro Dan Carter confirms deal with French club Racing Metro Calls for alcohol-free sport 'Amazing' All Blacks can beat odds: Henry

Veteran centre Conrad Smith says he's confident the All Blacks will ultimately be strengthened by his looming late-season sabbatical that's got coach Steve Hansen already pondering his options.

The 31-year-old is in countdown mode as he heads towards a well-earned rest at the end of this Rugby Championship. That will see Hansen needing to find a new No 13, probably for the third Bledisloe in Dunedin on October 19, and definitely the subsequent four tests on their November tour.

Popular opinion has the versatile Ben Smith moving from the right wing to fill the void left by his namesake at centre - a situation made even more logical by the imminent return of Cory Jane.

Conrad Smith said ahead of last night's test in Hamilton that a succession plan was finally being discussed within the All Blacks.

"Steve brought it up a couple of times only this week, and it's something maybe over the next few weeks we'll look at," he said.

"The whole idea is [the sabbatical] will benefit the team ultimately, the same way when we had Richie [McCaw] away I think we really grew as a team.

"It was tough dealing with a player of his experience going, but when you deal with it, then he comes back, it's massive for a side. I think [my break] can serve the same purpose."

Smith fully endorses the skills of Ben Smith to fill the position, if that's what Hansen decides. But he also has some words of warning regarding his namesake's potential shift in position.

"It will be a big change, and I don't think it's as easy as some people think," he said. "Defensively there are things you have to adjust to, and the attacking opportunities are quite different. You've got to wait for what's created inside you, whereas wingers like to strike from counter-attack, and that's what he's so good at.

"He's still pretty new to wing and I think that's why we've been keen to give him time to sort that position out.

"He's got it all. It will be a big shift, but I'm more than happy and keen to help him make that."

Smith said having the finishing line in view was putting a spring in his step this Rugby Championship.

"It's pretty motivating. It's served me well, and has kept me really up because I want to leave on a good note. I'm almost feeling like I'm going miss it when I go, but that will be a good thing I think."

Ad Feedback

- Sunday Star Times

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who was the best-performed All Blacks forward on the northern tour?

Dane Coles

Nathan Harris

Keven Mealamu

Wyatt Crockett

Charlie Faumuina

Ben Franks

Owen Franks

Joe Moody

Brodie Retallick

Luke Romano

Jeremy Thrush

Patrick Tuipulotu

Sam Whitelock

Sam Cane

Jerome Kaino

Richie McCaw

Liam Messam

Kieran Read

Vitor Vito

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content