Accomplished All Blacks outside back Ben Smith will leave New Zealand to play rugby in France after next year’s Rugby World Cup.
The classy 76-Test wing/fullback has signed to play for French Top 14 club Pau, which has contracted numerous former New Zealand Test players in recent years and is coached by ex All Black Simon Mannix.
Smith, 32, made his Test debut in 2009 but became a mainstay of the world champions’ starting XV when Steve Hansen took over as coach in 2012.
Erik Howard winced as he felt the familiar spasms in his lower back on the physio’s table. The worse they were, the better he had played. It was a ready-made barometer of performance, although he knew the pain would not leave him in his life after football.
Israel Folau, will he or won’t he take Rugby Australia to court? Raelene Castle, will she and should she survive the whole Folau saga? Can RA afford a long drawn-out episode in the courts? These questions currently dominate the headlines here in Australia. Worse, it’s a World Cup year!