England v New Zealand: Conrad Smith to miss series final with thumb injury
Last Updated: 16/06/14 8:28am
New Zealand centre Conrad Smith has been ruled out of Saturday's final Test against England with a broken thumb.
Smith sustained the damage to a bone in his right hand during the 28-27 series-clinching victory at Forsyth Barr Stadium and will be sidelined for five to six weeks.
Malakai Fekitoa or Ryan Crotty are in line to replace the outstanding 32-year-old midfielder, who scored a late match-winning try in the first Test in Auckland.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen will unveil his new outside centre at Wednesday's team announcement, with Fekitoa the favourite to start after spending the first two Tests of the series on the bench.
"What we thought was only a muscle injury has turned out to be a broken bone for Conrad Smith in his thumb, so he won't be considered for Saturday unfortunately," Hansen said.
"So it's bad luck for him and an opportunity for someone else.
"We have an idea of who we'll go for, but we don't need to tell England who that is.
"Ryan's been there and done that and been in the atmosphere, but what it'll come down to is whether we think Malakai's ready or not."
No 8 Kieran Read could return at Waikato Stadium after missing the Auckland and Dunedin Tests through concussion, while Beauden Barrett is a candidate to replace Aaron Cruden at fly-half.
Watch the third Test between England and New Zealand live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 8am on Saturday.