Two-time World Cup winner Conrad Smith seems to have his path to retirement all figured out after saying he is ‘getting near that stage’ when asked about calling time on his career.
Smith announced his retirement from international rugby after clinching the Webb Ellis trophy in 2015 with the All Blacks and talking ahead of the Brisbane Tens this weekend, the 36-year-old has said it won’t be long until he hangs up the boots altogether.
“I think it’s more when other opportunities come along and it might be time to call it quits,” said Smith, who earned 94 caps for New Zealand after making his debut in 2004.
“I think I’m getting near that stage, I’ve still got to work a few things out.”
Breaking onto the local scene in the ITM Cup back in 2003, Smith went on to play his entire Super Rugby career with the Wellington-based franchise Hurricanes. Appointed captain by Chris Boyd in 2015, Smith confirmed it was be his last season in New Zealand after agreeing a deal to move to France with Pau.
Hoping for a swansong finish after over a decade playing for the ‘Canes, Smith played a role in a side which conceded a combined 23 points in the knockout stages to the Chiefs and Brumbies to reach the 2015 Super Rugby final.
After topping the regular season table to be top seed, the Hurricanes welcomed the Highlanders to ‘the Cake Tin’ looking to give Smith a taste of silverware before leaving. But Highlanders hooker Elliot Dixon would be a big-game playmaker in the loose, scoring a try and setting up team-mate Waisake Naholo to send the Hurricanes to defeat.
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Success awaited at the England World Cup later that year when Dan Carter, and the formidable centre partnership of Smith and Ma’a Nonu bowed out with all three cashing in on moves to France.
Two years into his stay in the Pyrenees, Smith commented that spectators in Brisbane should expect to see the same kind of player who scored 26 tries for the All Blacks.
“I’d like to think I’m doing the same things I always did,” Smith said.
“I’m playing the same game I always have, so I’m still enjoying it. Hopefully it will just be more of the same from me.”
“I’m glad I’m not playing my old Hurricanes side, that would have been a bit strange,” he said, with Pau drawn in a pool alongside the Waratahs, Chiefs and Highlanders.
“I won’t know a lot of the players, two years and it seems like there’s a whole new bunch of guys playing in the [New Zealand] teams. But I’ll know a few of them, I enjoy that part of the game.”
And with his contract set to expire at the end of the season with Top 14 outfit Pau, Smith’s qualifications in practicing law should see life after rugby prove just as busy as one on the international circuit.
Chief executive of New Zealand, Steve Tew, once said of Smith: “With his well-known background in law, Conrad has also been involved as a player representative in the Players’ Collective negotiations for many years and has helped shape the current environment for all professional players. He will also leave a great legacy in that regard.”
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