Football: Tommy Smith's All Whites career looks over

By Kris Shannon

Tommy Smith, who once captained the All Whites, may never again wear the shirt. Photo / Getty
Tommy Smith, who once captained the All Whites, may never again wear the shirt. Photo / Getty

One aspect of Tommy Smith's exclusion from the All Whites exemplified why coach Anthony Hudson will continue to overlook the defender.

Seeking to contact a man who once captained his country and explain he can forget about wearing the silver fern for the foreseeable future, Hudson was reduced to "at best, a couple of text messages here and there".

Smith's international career was yesterday curtailed after the 26-year-old was omitted from the All Whites' squad for the forthcoming Oceania Nations Cup and, judging by the communication difficulties alone, it's easy to see why.

One of New Zealand's heroes at the 2010 World Cup, Smith's commitment to the All Whites' cause has in recent years waned. There was first his feelings of frustration at missing a club game before the World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, then his request to be ignored by the All Whites for 12 months.

And, finally, after Smith made himself unavailable for the Nations Cup while chasing a new contract at Ipswich Town, Hudson believed he was left with no choice.

"It's nothing personal against Tommy - he's a top player and a really good character," Hudson said. "I respect his situation but there was a situation before that, and before that. I have to do what's right for the team."

Some would argue the inclusion of Smith was in the All Whites' best interests, given his quality has never been in question. But with precious few fixtures to prepare for the all-important 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, the coach and player's priorities were too far apart.

"Tommy's (club) career is a priority and that's fine," Hudson said. "But I'm the coach of New Zealand and I have to do what's best for the national team. This decision's been very difficult but we have to over-achieve to be successful and, to do that, we need a consistent group of players who want to fight for the national team."

Smith forms a stark contrast with Winston Reid, his one-time centre-back partner who has also been left out of the side heading to Papua New Guinea at the end of the month. Reid was available for selection but the West Ham defender has simply suffered too many injuries to cope with another arduous campaign.

"Winston is 100 per cent committed," Hudson said. "We'd love him here but it's just not realistic for him to come right from the end of a long season."

Missing Reid and Smith, Hudson attempted to lure Andrew Durante out of retirement, but that door remained closed. Glen Moss' eye surgery dealt another blow to the All Whites' rearguard and the eligibility saga again reared its ugly head to account for the absence of Ryan De Vries.

But Hudson, understandably, wanted to focus on the players that were picked, insisting he was confident of claiming the tournament and consigning the horror in Honiara to history.

"I'm bored of talking about all the excuses," he said. "We have a good squad and they're more than capable of going there and getting the job done."

All Whites squad to play the OFC Nations Cup (club side, country, caps
and goals for New Zealand):

Goalkeepers
Max Crocombe (Oxford Utd, England 0, 0)
Stefan Marinovic (SpVgg Unterhaching, Germany 3, 0)
Tamati Williams (RKC Waalwijk, Netherlands 1, 0)

Defenders
Luke Adams (South Melbourne FC, Australia 0, 0)
Michael Boxall (SuperSport Utd, South Africa 14, 0)
Sam Brotherton (Wisconsin University, USA 1, 0)
Kip Colvey (San Jose Earthquakes FC, USA 0, 0)
Thomas Doyle (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand 2, 0)
Louis Fenton (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand 3, 0)

Midfielders
Te Atawhai Wihongi (Onehunga Sports FC, New Zealand 1, 0)
Moses Dyer (Onehunga Sports FC, New Zealand 2, 0)
Clayton Lewis (Onehunga Sports FC, New Zealand 3, 0)
Michael McGlinchey (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand 33, 3)
Matt Ridenton (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand 1, 0)
Bill Tuiloma (RC Strasbourg Alsace, France, 9, 0)
Themi Tzimopoulos (PAS Giannina FC, Greece, 3, 0)

Forwards
Kosta Barbarouses (Melbourne Victory, Australia 29, 2)
Rory Fallon (Bristol Rovers, England 18, 4)
Monty Patterson (Ipswich Town FC, England 0, 0)
Logan Rogerson (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand 1, 0)
Marco Rojas (FC Thun, Switzerland, 23, 1)
Shane Smeltz (Sydney FC, Australia, 51, 24)
Chris Wood (Leeds Utd FC, England 39, 14)

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 09 Dec 2016 21:03:37 Processing Time: 637ms