Smith: ‘There will be plenty of options’

Date published: October 30 2015

New Zealand stalwart Conrad Smith believes there will be plenty of players knocking on the door to replace him when he retires from international rugby after the World Cup final.

Smith is among a host of Kiwis that will hang up their All Black boots following Saturday's final, including fellow centre Ma'a Nonu, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kevin Mealamu and Tony Woodcock.

While New Zealand fans might be sweating over who could replace such an established core, Smith is confident in the depth of rugby in the nation.

"It happens a lot in New Zealand…a group of players move on and there's often a lot of talk about how there is no-one there," said the 34-year-old, who has signed for Section Paloise in France.

"Within half a Super Rugby season it seems there will be guys filling those roles. That's what served New Zealand rugby so well.

"I know I got my chance about '07 when a lot of guys went. Playing in '08 it was scary because you'd seen so much experience leave but you've got to fill the void. It was one of my favourite years seeing a whole new group come in and step into those spots and lead the All Blacks. A lot of your learning comes out of those experiences.”

The Hurricanes captain is backing the likes of Malakai Fekitoa, Ryan Crotty and Charlie Ngatai – all who have spent time in the New Zealand camp before – to step up and compete for the number 12 jersey. 

"There won't be a want of options," he added.

"Malakai and Crotty but even Charlie Ngatai getting a shot earlier in the year, there's a lot of guys that will put their hands up and it will be exciting."