Ben Smith: Bledisloe 'massive'

The All Blacks' star duo couldn’t contain their excitement about their coach's new biscuit film.

The fact Ben Smith still wants to play test rugby when his sabbatical expires might have had something to do with his reluctance to comment on Steve Hansen's acting career.

All Blacks coach Hansen is set to star in an advertisement for biscuits, where he appears dressed in leathers and riding a two-wheeled machine, evoking some mirth among his players.

Smith, who will play the upcoming Bledisloe Cup tests in Sydney and Dunedin before sitting out the rest of the season, is contracted to NZ Rugby through to 2020 with an option of terminating the deal after the 2019 World Cup.

As the All Blacks vice-captain, and with 62 caps to his name, the 31-year-old has earned the right to speak up to management and team-mates alike. Just not, it seems, when it comes to head coach Hansen's decision to have a dig at acting.

A prolonged bout of laughter was as much as he could manage on the subject of his boss's dip into the thespian world.

But Smith was more circumspect when earlier asked whether he had any sympathy for his Australian counterparts; it is difficult to shine a torch on many positive aspects of the 15-man code on the other side of the Tasman right now. Smith, who is expected to start at fullback for the Bledisloe Cup match at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, never deviated from the company policy of not giving a sucker an even break.

"The Aussies have had a lot of preparation time - they have spent four or five weeks really trying to nail this first Bledisloe," Smith said. "It is going to be massive."

The problem for the Wallabies is that even their most ardent fans would find it hard to agree with that sentiment.

With the Western Force recently chopped from Super Rugby, a number of representatives from the Perth team, as well as plenty of respected ex-players, have been publicly vented:  Smith was sympathetic. And then switched the subject.

"Yeah, you have to feel for the Force and how that has gone," Smith said. "But that is Super Rugby and we are preparing for a test match. They will be looking to play as well as they can to make sure they are looking after was is best for them and their future."

Neither Smith nor team-mate Beauden Barrett were prepared to comment on the court case involving the listening device that was found in the All Blacks' meeting room in their hotel in Double Bay in Sydney last year.

Adrian Gard, a security expert employed by the All Blacks, has denied he made up claims about finding listening device under a chair.

The All Blacks are staying in the same hotel this week.

"Is that on at the moment is it?" Barrett said in reference to the court case. "Look, we are focusing on our footy. So we let the court take care of that."


Photo by: GETTY IMAGES Caption: Ben Smith makes a break during the Game of Three Halves between the All Blacks and Taranaki at ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe last weekend.