Smith blow for All Blacks
Smith blow for All BlacksSHARE
New Zealand suffered a late setback, with All Black centre Conrad Smith having pulled out of this weekend's Rugby Championship opener against Australia.
He returned home for the birth of his child, team officials said Friday.
"Conrad Smith has returned to NZ to be with his wife who is expecting a baby. Ryan Crotty called into AB squad as cover," the All Blacks announced on their official Twitter feed.
The absence of 77-Test veteran Smith, who has forged a record-breaking centres partnership with Ma'a Nonu, is a major blow for the All Blacks as they chase a record-breaking 18th consecutive win.
Malakai Fekitoa will start in his place, with Crotty on the bench.
New Zealand – revised: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Joe Moody, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Date: Saturday, August 16
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 20.00 (22.00 NZ time; 10.00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
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