The All Blacks’ leadership group unanimously agreed that Aaron Smith should be suspended for this Saturday’s Test against the Boks, according to coach Steve Hansen.
Smith has returned home to face a misconduct hearing and to deal with the fallout after details emerged of him entering a disabled toilet cubicle with a woman at Christchurch Airport the day after the All Blacks’ Test against the Springboks.
It’s believed that the All Blacks’ 10-man leadership group, which includes the likes of Kieran Read, Ben Smith and Dane Coles, held a meeting to decide Smith’s fate upon arrival in South Africa, and agreed he should be stood down from this weekend’s Test.
After being rested for last weekend’s Test against Argentina, Smith was virtually certain to start against the Boks, but TJ Perenara will now retain the No 9 jersey.
Despite the disruption of Smith’s indiscretion, Hansen reiterated that there was no option but to punish the 27-year-old for his ‘unacceptable behaviour’.
‘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.’
All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino, who also forms part of the All Blacks’ leadership group, insisted that the team would not lose focus in the midst of the latest scandal to hit New Zealand rugby.
Earlier this year, Chiefs players received official reprimands and came in for fierce criticism following a post-season party incident involving a stripper.
‘As leaders … we've got a responsibility to show the way – not just playing rugby but by being good people. That goes without saying, that we've got to show the way for these younger guys,’ Kaino commented.
‘We've been through a few [incidents] but for us we've got a goal to achieve. Playing the Springboks here in South Africa is tough, so our focus is solely on the game and what we can do to play well and get a step closer to what we want to achieve.’
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