The All Blacks have been rocked by a rare off-field scandal, sending superstar halfback Aaron Smith home from South Africa after it was revealed he was seen entering a disabled toilet with a female after the Test against the Springboks in Christchurch last month.
Team management learned of the incident upon arriving in the Republic for their last Rugby Championship game against the Boks in Durban, and – in conjunction with the ABs’ leadership group – have handed Smith a one-match ban.
Smith reportedly requested to go home after the incident became public.
All Blacks star Aaron Smith suspended after being seen ‘entering a disabled toilet with a female friend’ https://t.co/EJ11I9KHE2
— WalesOnline Rugby (@WalesRugby) October 5, 2016
“On the Sunday in Christchurch after the South African test at the Christchurch Airport, Aaron and a female friend were seen by members of the public to enter the disabled toilets. On our arrival to South Africa we were informed of this,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.
“I had a conversation with Aaron on Tuesday and he confirmed the story.
“As a result of that the leadership group met and were unanimous in the fact that behaviour wasn’t acceptable and as a consequence a one match suspension would be put in place.
“Clearly Aaron is bitterly disappointed with his behaviour and feels he has let the team down but just as importantly feels he is bitterly disappointed in letting his family and partner down.”
According to eyewitness accounts, Smith went into the disabled toilet at Christchurch Airport on the Sunday afternoon after the Test against South Africa for 5-10 minutes.
— Stuff.co.nz Sport (@NZStuffSport) October 5, 2016
A Christchurch Airport spokeswoman condemned the high-profile 27-year-old’s actions.
“Like many public facilities, we have disabled facilities,” she said.
“We don’t condone inappropriate behaviour at our airport and we understand that matters are being dealt with between the All Blacks and the player concerned.”
The incident comes hot on the heels of the long-running Chiefs stripper scandal, while it’s not the first time 54-Test All Black Smith’s lothario ways have made the headlines.
Back in 2014, his cheerleader girlfriend cut him loose after Smith’s dalliance with infamous streaker and stripper Lisa Lewis became public.
It’s not the first time Aaron Smith has been in trouble https://t.co/eRRhhEUvrr
— nzherald (@nzherald) October 5, 2016
Smith’s suspension gives in-from Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara another chance in the No.9 jumper after Smith was rested from last week’s game against Argentina, while Tawera Kerr-Barlow will again fill the bench role this weekend.
Olympic athletes are allegedly given 20 condoms each
They represent their countries
Aaron Smith has one ‘act’
Treated like a gigolo
— Paul Williams (@thepaulwilliams) October 5, 2016