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The Roar


'Kick in the guts': All Blacks great 'bemused' at Aaron Smith's late call up

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10th November, 2021
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All Blacks great Justin Marshall says he’s bemused by the decision to call up Aaron Smith for the end of the team’s northern tour, adding they had missed a chance to freshen up the star scrumhalf.

Smith, who missed the Rugby Championship games in Australia due to the birth of his child, has been called up to replace the injured Brad Weber.

He is unlikely to feature against Ireland this week, leaving one match – against France.

Marshall said his late recall was a “kick in the guts” for TJ Perenara and Finlay Christie and put undue stress on Smith.

“It was a real opportunity to freshen the guy up, and he was excited about that and said as much,” Marshall told NewstalkZB.

“(Smith) was looking forward to having a big off-season, summering at home, getting ready for 2022 a year out from the next World Cup…to come in hot and healthy for the next World Cup.

“Now he is off to the bleakness of the northern hemisphere and grinding out isolation when he comes back. I just think it’s counterproductive.

“Because of the time to get over there … it’s very stressful, jet lag … so he’s gone all that way for a French Test.

“I’m really bemused by it. The only thing is, the French Test is a tough one. It’s easily the toughest Test match of the tour.


“Antoine Dupont, the French halfback, is arguably the best player in the world at the moment…not consistently like Aaron Smith, but in the last couple of year’s he’s been sensational.

“The All Blacks are maybe thinking we can get through the Irish test with TJ Perenara but without Brad Weber we need Aaron Smith to win this Test match in the mix with TJ.

“I don’t think it’s a good call. They would be better served in the long term with Aaron Smith freshened up and revitalised.”

Marshall said the All Blacks could have called in players such as Bryn Hall and Mitchell Drummond and looked to build experience and depth.

“Maybe we’re in more trouble than I thought in the position,” Marshall said.


“It’s a bit of a kick in the guts for Finlay Christie.”