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'Remorseful' Aaron Smith stands down from Bledisloe Cup clash

New Zealand scrum-half Aaron Smith has stood down from Saturday's Test against Australia after being found guilty of serious misconduct by New Zealand Rugby.

The World Cup winner had already been suspended for the All Blacks' final match of the Tri-Nations versus South Africa after admitting he joined a ''female friend'' in a public toilet just before he and his team-mates flew from Auckland for the game.

The 27-year-old has now been ruled out of the Bledisloe Cup clash having "voluntarily" stood down, according to a New Zealand Rugby statement.

The governing body undertook misconduct proceedings against Smith following the revelations of the incident at Christchurch Airport last month, which came after the All Blacks' home win over South Africa the night before.

Smith, who was handed a formal warning as well as being found guilty of misconduct, voluntarily stood down from the Australia fixture and forfeited his selection fees.

New Zealand Rugby general manager Neil Sorensen, who chaired the hearing panel, said: "Aaron presented himself as genuine, honest and incredibly remorseful.

"We have also taken into account the fact that the very public nature of this incident has had a significant impact on him personally.

"We accepted that he is genuine about wanting to improve himself and note that he himself has acknowledged he will need the support of his family, friends and rugby to move forward.

"We also noted that Aaron had already made a very public apology to his partner, friends and family, team-mates, his employer and rugby fans and he had already served a one-week stand-down."

TJ Perenara, who replaced Smith for the Tri-Nations champions' record 57-15 thrashing of the Springboks, is set to continue at scrum-half against the Wallabies.


From Belfast Telegraph