Steve Hansen has named a new vice captain ahead of the test series with Wales.
After losing experienced players such as, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock, the All Blacks have moved to fill the leadership void left in their wake.
First came the obvious appointment of Kieran Read as captain, and today Steve Hansen has confirmed that full back, Ben Smith, will be handed the vice captaincy for the 2016 season.
Smith’s appointment raises the prospect of the All Blacks being captained from the back line for the first time since Mils Muliana led the side in 2009.
The 29 year old is regarded as the best fullback in the world, and has become increasingly influential in the Highlanders dressing room.
Indeed, according to kiwi news site, Stuff, Smith ‘is the key driver in setting standards, plotting game-plans and establishing the successful culture that has been a hallmark of their [Highlanders] charge to their inaugural title in 2015’.
Smith will take his place along side Read in a new All Black leadership group that includes players such as Aaron Cruden, Dane Coles, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena