Cape Town - All Black scrumhalf Aaron Smith has opted to stand down from this weekend’s Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Auckland.
This comes after New Zealand Rugby conducted a disciplinary meeting with the scrumhalf on Monday.
The misconduct proceedings followed after Smith had breached All Black team standards regarding behaviour when he was seen walking into a disabled toilet cubicle with a “female friend” at Christchurch Airport the day after they had beaten the Springboks 41-13 on September 17.
He was subsequently sent home from their tour of South Africa and missed the 57-15 win against the Boks in Durban.
According to the All Blacks’ official website, Monday’s disciplinary matter was heard over two hours by a panel chaired by New Zealand Rugby’s general manager Neil Sorensen.
“It’s important to note that as an employment matter, it is not usual to comment publicly on proceedings. However, both Aaron and his legal representative, and New Zealand Rugby acknowledge that in the circumstances, there is a need to make some public comment,” Sorensen said.
“The misconduct meeting has concluded:
• In light of the impact on the reputation of All Blacks jersey and the commercial partners Aaron’s actions amounted to serious misconduct
• Aaron Smith will be issued with a formal warning
• He will voluntarily stand down from assembling with the All Blacks for this weekend’s Bledisloe Cup Test match
• He will forfeit his selection fees and,
• He is committed to getting the support he needs to deal with personal issues and to work on his relationship with his partner.
“Aaron presented himself as genuine, honest and incredibly remorseful. We have also taken into account the fact that the very public nature of this incident, has had a significant impact on him personally.
“We accepted that he is genuine about wanting to improve himself and note that he himself has acknowledged he will need the support of his family, friends and Rugby to move forward.
“We also noted that Aaron had already made a very public apology to his partner, friends and family, team mates, his employer, and rugby fans and he had already served a one-week stand down.”
Both parties have agreed that no further comment will be made on this matter.
If they beat the Wallabies at Eden Park on Saturday, the All Blacks will set a new record for consecutive wins by tier one Test nation (18).