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Why Aaron Smith has been rewarded with All Blacks captaincy

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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In front of his home crowd in Dunedin, halfback Aaron Smith will captain the All Blacks for the first time in his 98th Test at Forsyth Barr Stadium when the All Blacks take on Fiji on Saturday night.


A co-captain for the Highlanders, Smith’s first All Black test as captain comes as Sam Whitelock moves to the bench with the return of Brodie Retallick and Patrick Tuipulotu in the starting side.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster heralded Smith as a ‘special player’ who has earnt the captaincy badge as part of their leadership group.

“Aaron is a special player with real mana and a natural leader and his preparation is second to none. I’m sure he, his wife Teagan and his wider whanau will be proud of what he has achieved,”

When Foster told Smith of his achievement, the 32-year-old was rather subdued with the news, but the head coach was sure that his halfback would lead very well having done it at the Highlanders.

“Probably a little bit subdued in some ways, from the external side, internally, very proud,” Foster said.

“He’s earned it. He is a big part of our whole leadership group, he’s grown to be an outstanding ‘preparer’ for a test match. So I think there is a little bit of a reward there, but it is something we are very confident in.


“We’ve watched his leadership through the Highlanders and thought he did a great job there as well, so it gives us a lot of confidence to give him that title.

“We gave him the captaincy because he’s earned it and because we’ve looked at this period and how we manage the resources, so it was always an intention of ours.

“I guess for him, being here in Dunedin, if it needs to be any more special, it probably will be.”


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