Is Smith going to play again for ABs?

Has Ben Smith played his last game in the All Black jersey?

Smith (33) helped himself to two tries in the All Blacks' 71-9 victory over Namibia on Sunday night in Tokyo.

The win, which was convincing in the end, took a while to emerge as the All Blacks rather stuttered through the first half.

Smith scored a try in each half and did nothing wrong in earning his 83rd cap for his country.

But it could be the final time we see Smith in the black jersey.

The All Blacks have one pool game left and from there move into the knockout stages of the tournament.

So conceivably, the side could have four more games to play if it gets to at least the semifinals.

After giving everyone a run in the opening three games of pool play, All Black coach Steve Hansen is likely to go to his first-choice line-up in the final pool game - against Italy in Toyota City on Saturday.

Whatever the merits of it, Hansen is bound to bring back the duel playmaker role so Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga will return to the team.

That removes Smith's chance of playing fullback so he would then have to look to move on to the wing.

But Sevu Reece has impressed in his two games on the right wing at the World Cup so far although one still has to wonder whether he can cut the mustard in the tight games.

With a place in the starting side looking a tough ask for Smith, his route to get on the field would then have to come via the reserves bench.

But even in that senario, it becomes far from easy for Smith to make the playing squad.

Of the three back reserves, halfback TJ Perenara is bound to be selected.

With a ton of talent in the midfield, one of the players who gets left out of the starting midfield is likely to come into consideration as a bench player.

Sonny Bill Williams played well off the bench against South Africa and backed that up with a polished display in the win over Canada.

Whover misses out of the four midfield players is going to be unlucky so is likely to get a bench berth.

That leaves just one spot for an outside back reserve.

Smith filled that role in the All Blacks's opening World Cup game against the Springboks but is no certainty to do so again.

Although he makes plenty of errors, the positives are seen to outweigh the negatives when it comes to Jordie Barrett.

Whether he is the sort of player needed in a tight World Cup knockout game is debateable but Hansen has always been a fan of the youngest of the three brothers at the tournament, and he appears to be the future of the side.

Barrett has a good turn of pace and is big and strong enough to get over the advantage line.

Smith may find himself on the outer and will have to rely on injury to get back on to the field.

Fixtures

Upcoming game

  • South Africa v Canada, Kobe, 11.15pm

 

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