Smith pays penalty for protocol breach

NZ Newswire Updated September 13, 2012, 12:12 pm
All Blacks make four changes

Aaron Smith has broken team protocol and has been relegated to the reserves for the All Blacks' Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Dunedin on Saturday night.

Smith had started at halfback in all six previous Tests this season and his indiscretion gives Piri Weepu his first start since last year's Rugby World Cup.

All Blacks' coach Steve Hansen made no apology for the decision to demote Smith.

He said there was a strong focus on recovery after Test matches and Smith had breached protocol after the match against Argentina in Wellington last weekend.

"Protocols are non-negotiable and the consequences are you don't start in the playing 15 if you break them."

Hansen said it was irrelevant to speculate whether Smith would have started had he not broken protocol.

"He broke them so we don't need to go there. The other fellow (Weepu) played pretty well last weekend as well. We're very fortunate we've got two good halfbacks."

Hansen declined to specify Smith's offence but replied "no" when asked whether alcohol was a factor.

The return of Weepu, who will be playing his 63rd Test, is one of four changes to the All Blacks' starting lineup.

The others are in the forwards where Liam Messam slots in at blindside flanker in place of Victor Vito, lock Sam Whitelock comes in for Brodie Retallick and Andrew Hore starts at hooker instead of Keven Mealamu.

There is also a change in the back reserves where Highlander Tamati Ellison replaces teammate Ben Smith because of his ability to cover second five-eighth in the absence of Dan Carter.

Hansen said Messam had demanded selection with his form for the Chiefs and All Blacks this season.

"Liam's comfortable in his own skin and he's playing particularly well. He brings a consistency of high quality performance and just a little more physicality than Victor."

Whitelock had responded well to his demotion last week and Retallick, in his first season of All Blacks rugby, needed to be managed well through the campaign.

"Brodie doesn't necessarily need to start every Test at this stage of his career and he's still got a lot of rugby ahead of him this season."

Hansen said there was little between Hore and Mealamu at hooker and either could have started.

All Blacks:

Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Tamati Ellison, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Victor Vito, Brodie Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu.

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  1. livenhope08:43pm Thursday 13th September 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    This is like dangling the carrot just out of reach. What did he do? One week Sam is 3rd and after less than 40 minutes he's back up to 1st or 2nd. Ben can cover 2nd five, wing and full back that's 3 compared to Tamati's 2nd five and wing, I'm so confused. Maybe that's Hansens aim?

  2. 08:28pm Thursday 13th September 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    OK .. we get it .. Bad Smithy .. Naughty .. Naughty Boy! .. . seems to be, like an Infection, passed on by ... big Ted! .. Naughty Teddy

  3. 05:30pm Thursday 13th September 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    I applaud Hansen for his no nonsense attitude. No matter who you are you abide by what the team protocals are. There is enough history in the ABs and the Black Caps of assholes thinking they are bigger than the team and we saw too much of the hypocrisy of this when Henry was in charge. He may have been the best half back in the country this year, but he has to obey the rules. I wonder what the other senior players were up to in letting this happen. We will still win.

  4. Stephen John05:28pm Thursday 13th September 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    Drunkeness is a learned habit. Kiwi drinking habits are absolutely ridiculous. Its part of our culture that has to change. But that's not going to happen anytime soon. The fact is, there's nothing wrong with drinking. Its how we're drinking thats the problem. Drunkeness is learned habit. Teach your bloody kids to drink socially by socialable and you'll go along way to solving future violence in the home.

    1 Reply
  5. PG05:04pm Thursday 13th September 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    I think Zac Guildford did something wrong too!

  6. Paul05:02pm Thursday 13th September 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    Rules are rules!... take it like a man and we'll see you on the paddock next time.

  7. shazz04:52pm Thursday 13th September 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    if you have a job contract would it be acceptable for your boss to make it public knowledge that you were not performing in your job if smith has done wrong why do we all have to know who gives a #$%$ this hansen is a little hitler do the NZRFU make public his indisgressions if he has any what a lot of #$%$ its time to replace this pain in the #$%$ of a coach the last one was bad enough lets see how piri plays and if not so good see how quick smith is on the field

    1 Reply
  8. Paul04:51pm Thursday 13th September 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    get over yourselves people,piri was always going to start against the boks so management say he broke a rule,do you honestley think ritchie did he would be stood down-no way

    2 Replies
  9. Hombre04:23pm Thursday 13th September 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    No respect for the rules; drop him altogether. He's not even an established player yet he's into abusing the rules. There are couple of others out there to choose from.

    1 Reply
  10. tom04:03pm Thursday 13th September 2012 NZSTReport Abuse

    Where's the protocol when a player has been out of rugby for over 4 weeks having his eye fixed and just slots back in for a Test without any game time??????????You wonder about these so called coaches and their overpaid lackies!!

    2 Replies

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