Star All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith has been suspended for misconduct and will not face the Springboks at Kings Park on Saturday.
Smith was seen entering a toilet cubicle with a female friend at Christchurch Airport on 18 September, the day after the last Test against South Africa. On Wednesday, it was confirmed that the veteran of 54 Tests is being sent back to New Zealand and will face a misconduct hearing on his return to the country.
'This was really bad decision-making by Aaron which reflects poorly on him, and on the team,' said New Zealand Rugby Union CEO Steve Tew.
'He has failed to meet the standards that New Zealand Rugby and the public expect of our players. We are taking action to improve the culture of our game and are about to embark on an independent review of respect and responsibility in our professional player environment.
'We have drafted the terms of reference and are currently talking to prospective panel members. We will provide an update on this shortly.'
Smith made a tearful apology in front of the media at the All Blacks team hotel on Thursday morning.
'I've made a huge mistake, a huge error in judgment. I'd firstly like to say a huge sorry to my partner Teagan, her family, my family,' Smith said. 'I'm also sorry to my team-mates, NZRU and the New Zealand fans.
'My behaviour was unacceptable and if you could respect me and my partner in this situation. I'm just trying to get home to deal with this.'
Smith will be missed by the All Blacks. The scrumhalf plays an important role in New Zealand's attack and kicking game.
The sudden departure of such an important and experienced player may disrupt the team ahead of such a big clash. While the All Blacks have already won the Rugby Championship title, they will be looking to beat the Boks in Durban this Saturday and equal the tier-one world record for 17 consecutive Test wins.
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