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We are celebrating the test career of our world- class halfback as his 100th test approaches. In the second part of Aaron Smith Week, sports editor Hayden Meikle looks at his test milestones.
v Ireland, Eden Park
June 9, 2012
Piri Weepu had started at halfback in the Rugby World Cup final eight months earlier, but Smith’s time had come after a whale of a season with the Highlanders. Incoming coach Steve Hansen wanted his ‘‘Nugget’’ to ignite the team with his pace and delivery, and he duly delivered. ‘‘He was simply outstanding, with great decision-making, and his clearance of the ball was fantastic ... it was as good a debut as you could have,’’ Hansen said. Smith debuted alongside lock Brodie Retallick and winger Julian Savea as the All Blacks won 42-10.
v Ireland, Rugby League Park
June 16, 2012
Smith did not have long to wait to get his name on the scoresheet. He scored the All Blacks’ only try in a 22-19 wrestle in the second of three tests. Nothing too exciting — he burrowed over just after halftime, and the TMO gave it the thumbs-up. The game was played at Addington, as AMI Stadium was wrecked in the Christchurch earthquakes.
v Australia, Twickenham
October 31, 2015
After just missing out on the excitement — and utter relief, after the long wait since 1987 — of winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup on home soil, Smith was not going to be denied in 2015. He helped send legends Richie McCaw and Dan Carter out in style with a 34-17 win over Australia.
v Wales, Forsyth Barr Stadium
June 25, 2016
Lovely timing here, as Smith brought up his half-century in his adopted home city. The All Blacks fired, too, thumping the Welsh 46-6.
v Lions, Eden Park
June 24, 2017
It is generally a once-in-a-career experience, playing the Lions, and Smith made the most of his chance as he produced a superb all-round performance to lead the All Blacks to a 30-15 win in the first test. The rest of the series, meh, let’s move on.
v Ireland, Dublin
November 17, 2018
Justin Marshall had long been the standard-bearer for All Black halfbacks. But Smith took his record by appearing in his 82nd test. The tired All Blacks were poor, losing 16-9.
First test as captain
v Fiji, Forsyth Barr Stadium
July 10, 2021
Another milestone marked at home. In his 97th test, Smith had the honour of leading the team out on his home ground. The All Blacks misfired for 60 minutes but won 57-23.