All Blacks wait on Conrad Smith

New Zealand centre Conrad Smith made a low-key but successful return to the fray on Saturday, scoring a try in a muddy club fixture in Wellington.

After a lengthy break brought on by a hamstring injury, Smith made a decent 60-minute cameo for Old Boys University in their 33-7 win over the West Roosters.

The Hurricane playmaker’s return is a timely fillip for the All Blacks after their shock 20-15 loss to the Wallabies in Melbourne on Saturday.

Accusing fingers have been pointed at New Zealand’s midfield after Australia star Stirling Mortlock made good on his promise to expose the defensive frailties of makeshift centre Luke McAlister.

New Zealand boss Graham Henry is scheduled to name his squad for the Rugby World Cup on July 22, but assistant coach Wayne Smith told the Sunday News newspaper that his namesake would get extra time to prove his fitness.

“We don’t have to finalise the World Cup squad until August 14 – it’s possible we can leave a space available for issues like Conrad’s,” said New Zealand’s backs coach.

“Hopefully that won’t be the case and he’ll get an opportunity to show us what he’s got over the next couple of weeks.

“Conrad is on a plan – our medical people are talking to him constantly.

“He’s had ten days of pretty hard training, he’s played club rugby this weekend and I’d like to go and see him next weekend when we’ve got a bye to keep an eye on his progress.”

If the Hurricanes star proves his fitness he is likely to get a run during the upcoming Tri-Nations Tests in Christchurch and Auckland.


365 Digital

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