NZ won't miss Aaron too much
REACTION: With the wealth of talent he has at scrumhalf, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen will not be too worried about Aaron Smith's absence for their Rugby Championship showdown against the Springboks in Durban.
Smith returned home ahead of the Kings Park showdown after his lapse in judgement involving a disabled toilet cubicle and a woman at Christchurch Airport last month was brought to light this week.
With Smith gone, Hurricanes scrumhalf TJ Perenara has retained the No.9 jersey after starting in the 36-17 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires last weekend and Hansen is confident in the 24-year-old's abilities.
"He [Perenara] has played really well, particularly since June," Hansen told reporters at the team's Durban base.
"He really went up a gear for the Hurricanes during that [Super Rugby] finals series. He's just got to do his job and that is clear the ball.
"His passing has been first class and the rest of his qualities that are unique to him will just happen anyway, when the occasions present themselves for him to exhibit those skills."
Tawera Kerr-Barlow will once again provide scrumhalf cover from the bench and he will also bring his own qualities to the game.
"TKB [Tawera Kerr-Barlow] comes back and he is a very physical halfback," Hansen added. "He is a different type of halfback than TJ and we were very happy with his form against Argentina as well."
Meanwhile, The All Blacks are one win away from equalling the record for consecutive Tests and Hansen admits that his players want their names in the history books.
"If you try and avoid it [record, it creates more pressure. If you do talk about it and embrace it then it becomes a challenge.
"It is something that motivates this group. They want to be a team that is seen to be a great All Black side and to do it you have to do things other teams have not done," said Hansen.
By Warren Fortune, in Durban