All Blacks loose forward Jerome Kaino says the All Blacks have enough experience to avoid letting the Aaron Smith sex scandal distract them from the task at hand this weekend.
The All Blacks will be heading into Sunday morning's (NZT) Rugby Championship clash with the Springboks in Durban without their first-choice halfback after Smith received a one-match ban for his toilet tryst at Christchurch Airport.
It was revealed this morning the 27-year-old halfback had an encounter with a woman the day after the test against the Springboks in Christchurch three weeks ago. A witness said there was no question what the pair were up to.
Kaino said the loss of such a key man wouldn't faze his team, who will be looking to extend their winning run to 17 straight tests.
"We've got a goal we want to achieve," Kaino said.
"Playing the Springboks in South Africa is tough. For us our focus is solely going to be on the game and what we can do to play well and get the result."
Kaino, included in the team after recovering from a shoulder injury, said the responsibility to ensure the All Blacks' focus doesn't wane would lie with the team's leadership group, of which he was an integral part.
"As leaders we lead the squad and we've got a responsibility to show the way - not just playing rugby but by being good people," he said.
"That goes without saying, that we've got to show the way for these younger guys.
"A lot of guys in this team have been around for a while and have gone through a lot on and off the field so I think we've got enough experience to focus the team on what is most important.
A man wrote to the
yesterday saying Aaron Smith was at the airport with his wife and young children when they saw Smith "sneak" into a wheelchair access bathroom with a young woman who was not his partner.
"The pair were in the bathroom for 5-10 minutes and from the noises coming out of the bathroom there was absolutely no question what the couple were doing in there.
"Mr Smith then came out of the room on his own, straightening up his white checked shirt and black dress pants (the All Blacks uniform they were all wearing at the time).
"About a minute later the young lady comes out of the same toilet cubicle looking equally suspicious. I myself did not have a problem with this ... my wife however is protesting that this is disgusting for a public figure to do.
"He essentially occupied a public cubicle reserved for the disabled for up to 10 minutes. This was not discreet, it was 2pm on a Sunday where there were a lot of children and fans around. He was in his full All Blacks uniform and there was not an ounce of remorse or regret on his face. He buttoned up his shirt and sat back down with his teammates and carried on smiling, chatting like nothing had happened."
Smith is heading home from South Africa after the squad were alerted to the airport incident.
"Clearly Aaron is bitterly disappointed in his behaviour and feels he has let the team down but just as importantly he feels bitterly disappointed in letting his family and his partner down," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said today.
The All Blacks side to face the Springboks was named this afternoon, with Matt Todd named to start at openside flanker.
Waisake Naholo will wear the No11 jersey in his first match since tearing a hamstring against Australia in Sydney in August. Sam Whitelock returns to his starting lock position after coming off the bench in Buenos Aires last weekend, and midfielder George Moala comes on to the bench for the first time since returning from a knee problem.
TJ Perenara starts again in the No9 jersey and going by his performance against the Pumas the All Blacks are unlikely to be too badly disadvantaged.
All Blacks team to play South Africa at Kings Park, Durban, on Sunday:
15. Ben Smith
14. Israel Dagg
13. Anton Lienert-Brown
12. Ryan Crotty
11. Waisake Naholo
10. Beauden Barrett
9. TJ Perenara
8. Kieran Read (c)
7. Matt Todd
6. Jerome Kaino
5. Sam Whitelock
4. Brodie Retallick
3. Owen Franks
2. Dane Coles
1. Joe Moody
16. Codie Taylor
17. Wyatt Crockett
18. Charlie Faumuina
19. Liam Squire
20. Ardie Savea
21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow
22. Lima Sopoaga
23. George Moala