James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Game first then off to see grandson

Conrad Smith.
Conrad Smith.

Conrad Smith's father will watch his All Black son play tonight from somewhere in New Plymouth before heading south tomorrow to see his new grandson.

Trevor Smith said Conrad, who missed last weekend's match in Sydney for the birth of Smith senior's grandson, had been travelling back and forth between his home in Wellington and Auckland, where the All Blacks have been in camp this week.

He did not want to disclose the name of his new grandson but said he had seen a couple of photos of the baby boy.

"All looks well. I haven't really talked to him [Conrad], he's been up in Auckland obviously in training."

Mr Smith said Conrad's wife Lee-Anne would be staying in Wellington with his grandson and he'd be watching the game in New Plymouth.

"We hope we may get down to Wellington on Sunday."

The return of Smith to the backline will add experience to the team that will be missing stars Ma'a Nonu and Jerome Kaino, who are both injured.

Last week, the All Blacks were waiting on the arrival of Smith's baby boy in the hope that the veteran centre could catch a late flight to Sydney to join the team and play. In the 77 matches he has played for the All Blacks since his debut in 2004, Smith has won 69 times - an 89.6 per cent winning record.

Eden Park marketing manager Grant McKenzie said 48,000 people will be at tonight's test (kickoff 7.35).

TAB spokesman Mark Stafford said betting activity on the game was expected to pick up later today.

"About 90 per cent of the action is on Australia to keep it close. Australia to win is paying $3.70 but for $1.87 you can have Australia either winning or staying within 10 [points]."

Mr Stafford said with fine weather predicted, the total combined points spread for the game was 45, meaning a high-scoring affair was likely.

- NZ Herald

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