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Having spent the past three years playing for Otago, the first five-eighth will wear Waikato colours next year.
The move was confirmed yesterday by Waikato Rugby Union general manager Blair Foote.He understood the chance to play a bigger role in the team had been the biggest lure for the 22-year-old.
"I think predominantly to get a bit more game time, a bit more starting game time, that’s my understanding," he said.
"He’ll probably be our first-choice 10, versus spending a bit of time on the bench."
Smith had found himself playing a lot at fullback for Otago in 2017, with Josh Ioane often being used as the starting first five-eighth.
However, with Michael Collins having been injured throughout last year’s Mitre 10 Cup, there would probably be more competition for the spot in 2018.
Foote said Waikato was thrilled to have picked up Smith, after being relegated from the Premiership division last season.
"Yeah, definitely [happy].
"It was obviously one of the areas we struggled, nine and 10.
"So we’re really pleased to have picked up someone with his level of experience and calibre, definitely."
Smith would remain with the Highlanders this year, although Foote was unsure what his plans were in Super Rugby.