Having played an influential role in New Zealand’s 28-27 win in the second Test at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr, the centre has had to pull out of the series with a broken bone in his hand. He may also miss the rest of the Super Rugby season.
“It’s bad luck for [Smith],” said All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, “but an opportunity for someone else in the group. Other than that, everyone else is fine.”
Hansen refused to say which of his centre options, Malekai Fekitoa or Ryan Crotty, will come in to replace Smith and start.
On this he said: “[Fekitoa] been playing well and it’s just whether we think he’s ready to start. Ryan’s been there and done that, and been in the atmosphere. That’s what it’ll come down to – whether we think Malakai’s ready to start or not.”
However, the other issues that Hansen is keeping quiet on before New Zealand name their team on Thursday is the availability of No 8 Kieran Read, who missed the first two Tests against England after sitting out with concussion, while there are also calls for Beauden Barrett to replace Aaron Cruden at fly-half.
England, on the other hand, will name their squad on Wednesday night, BST. There are yet to be any updates on the fitness of four of England’s starters from the second Test who have question marks over them: half-backs Danny Care and Owen Farrell and centres Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell.