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All Blacks Dealt Blow As Ben Smith Set To Take Extended Break

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 15: Ben Smith of the All Blacks looks on during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Eden Park on June 15, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

All Blacks vice-captain Ben Smith is reportedly set to take up an option in his contract allowing him to take an extended sabbatical.

The New Zealand Herald are alleging that the 31-year-old Highlanders back could miss up to eight test during the break, beginning next month.

Smith was limited to a small role in the recent drawn Test series against the British and Irish Lions, coming off in the first test with suspected concussion before missing the remaining tests.

It will be a significant loss to Steve Hansen and the All Blacks. Smith, linked with moves to Munster and France’s Top 14 last year, recently signed a new contract with New Zealand Rugby to keep him in the southern hemisphere until 2020, and like several other of the All Blacks stars it allows for an extended break.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 24: Ben Smith of the All Blacks is tackled by Liam Williams of the Lions during the first test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park on June 24, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

He will return for Highlanders this week in his first appearance since that Lions Test, and will take his break at the end of August. In that time, according to the report, will miss┬áthe majority of the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship campaign (bowing out after the first two Tests), as well as the games against┬áBarbarians, France, Scotland and Wales.

Though Hansen will have options to replace Smith at the back (and will attest to this in public), it will be an inconvenience to the coach to lose an important player.


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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.