Aaron Smith: All Blacks scrum-half to miss rest of Rugby Championship, doubtful for autumn internationals
Aaron Smith will miss the remainder of the Rugby Championship to stay in New Zealand for the birth of his second child; Smith may not link up with the squad for their northern hemisphere tour this autumn, when the All Blacks face Wales, Italy, Ireland and France
Last Updated: 15/09/21 8:07am
All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith is a doubt for the upcoming autumn internationals after electing to miss the remainder of the Rugby Championship to stay in New Zealand for the birth of his second child.
Smith's baby is not due until November but he was concerned he would not be able to return home because of the "increasing unlikelihood" of being allocated a spot in hotel quarantine as part of New Zealand's COVID-19 restrictions.
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September 18, 2021, 10:20am
Test centurion Smith will now miss the rest of the Rugby Championship in Australia, instead opting to play in New Zealand's domestic NPC competition, and may not link up with the squad for their northern hemisphere tour, where they will face Wales, Italy, Ireland and France.
"The door isn't completely closed to me joining the (All Blacks) team for the northern tour if our baby comes early," the 32-year-old said.
"In this environment, anything can happen so I've got an open mind.
"At the moment though, I just want to focus on being here with my family and enjoying that time and playing for Manawatu. I can't wait to get the boots on again."
New Zealand lock Sam Whitelock has also elected to stay home following the birth of his third child rather than join the squad.
But fly-half Richie Mo'unga arrived in Australia on Wednesday to start a 14-day quarantine, having stayed home for the birth of his child.
Flanker Sam Cane, out of action since March due to a torn pectoral muscle and other complications, is training with his provincial side but may not be ready to play for three-four weeks, Bay of Plenty coach Daryl Gibson told New Zealand radio.
A longer recovery could jeopardise his planned return for the October 23 clash against the United States in Washington.
The All Blacks, top of the Rugby Championship table with three straight wins, next face Argentina for a second time on Saturday, following their 39-0 win over the Pumas on the Gold Coast, live on Sky Sports.