Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Rugby: Smith bouncing back from surgery

Conrad Smith. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Conrad Smith. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Conrad Smith never seems to have a bad game and he will no doubt feature heavily in South Africa's scouting report ahead of this weekend's Rugby Championship match against the All Blacks in Dunedin.

His ability to attract three defenders and find Ma'a Nonu set up the try for Julian Savea against Argentina on Saturday night and he barely missed a beat despite it being his first match since playing for the Hurricanes in their win over the Chiefs on July 13.

Following the end of the Super Rugby season Smith, who has played 59 tests, underwent two surgeries to repair a detached retina and he spent seven weeks resting.

Smith wasn't even given a tune-up game for Wellington in the ITM Cup and had only a week of practice with the All Blacks before logging 76 minutes against the Pumas in the 21-5 victory at Westpac Stadium.

"I was pretty sore," Smith said of the hit-out.

"I think even the training week, being back with the team, it's a bit of a step up.

But I got through it and it's good to get this out of the way and obviously build on that."

New Zealand will spend this week in Dunedin as they continue to search for the magic tonic to get their high-octane style of play to click.

They've played six tests this year, including three in the Rugby Championship, and while they're unbeaten, the two victories against Australia and Saturday night's triumph have been scratchy.

"There was a lot of frustration and we are aware that we are still not playing as well as we'd like so I'd be more concerned if we were really happy," Smith said.

"We know we can play a lot better and, hopefully, there's a lot of tests for us left in the year to try and do that."

Despite the scoreline suggesting New Zealand cruised against the Pumas, Smith said the South Americans would provide a stern test for Australia this weekend.

"I think Argentina will get a few scalps. I thought that right from the start. Obviously at home everyone has a lot of trouble putting them away and I think they showed they can travel really well also. So they will be tough for the Wallabies to beat."

South Africa arrived in New Zealand today and will travel to Dunedin on Thursday.


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