All Blacks great Conrad Smith will captain French outfit Pau in the Brisbane Global Tens.
All Blacks great Conrad Smith will captain French outfit Pau in the Brisbane Global Tens.

Veteran Smith ready for Tens test

RUGBY UNION: All Blacks great Conrad Smith will retire mid year but not before a final reminder of his enduring class in the fast, frantic spectacle of the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens.

Centre Smith is just months away from his 37th birthday and feels the time is right for experiences away from the playing fields that have been his life for 15 years.

In a few years from now, the 94-Test figure may prove an ideal rugby administrator in New Zealand when he dusts off his old law degree and adds new off-field skills.

Smith has won at Suncorp Stadium as an All Black and in Hurricanes colours but has never arrived in Brisbane with such a question mark on how his team will perform.

The two-time World Cup winner is captain of French club Pau, the biggest mystery element for the 12-team Tens tournament on Friday and Saturday.

Smith, former Wallabies skipper Ben Mowen, former All Blacks flyhalf Colin Slade, powerhouse winger Frank Halai, former England flanker Steffon Armitage and Fijian winger Watisone Votu are the core of a strong team on paper.

(l-r) Former Wallabies skipper Ben Mowen joins Pau teammates Carl Hayman and Conrad Smith at Stradbroke Island ahead of the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens.
(l-r) Former Wallabies skipper Ben Mowen joins Pau teammates Carl Hayman and Conrad Smith at Stradbroke Island ahead of the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens.

"The Tens is a cool, exciting concept to be a part of but there are also a few nerves because the boys are into the unknown in terms of what it is going to expose," Smith said.

"I've played a lot of rugby but not a lot of Tens so the pace of the game in the heat, coming from a tough winter in France, is one thing."

Mowen said Smith was still the fittest in the squad and on Tuesday he did look as lean as when setting up his wingers expertly in the 2011 and 2015 World Cup finals.

"I've probably got just this season to play until I finish up (in May) but I would like to stay on at Pau in another capacity," Smith said.

"Over the next couple of years I want to taste parts of life where hopefully something motivates and grabs me the same way rugby has.

"To be honest, I don't know about coaching...I'd have to try it and the same goes for administration and using that law degree I got 15 years ago."

Conrad Smith will headline Pau’s team for the Rugby Tens. Picture: AFP
Conrad Smith will headline Pau’s team for the Rugby Tens. Picture: AFP

The Bledisloe Cup was in New Zealand's iron grip throughout his 12 years as an All Black and Smith had bad news for Australian ears.

"Look, the Bledisloe Cup series was very close last year but I know every Kiwi team doesn't want to be the one that hands it back," Smith said.

Pau will have the crowd's support against the NSW Waratahs (3.13pm) in their first Pool B clash on Friday while they meet the Chiefs (7.05pm) in the cool of the evening.

Former All Blacks prop Carl Hayman, 38, is relishing his chance as a wildcard choice for Pau.

He has dropped from 130kg to 113kg since hitting the gym and resuming lower division amateur rugby in Pau last year after more than 400 top-tier games.



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