Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Aaron Smith given formal warning, pulls out of Bledisloe Cup test

Aaron Smith has finally found out his fate after two weeks of controversy. Photo / Photosport
Aaron Smith has finally found out his fate after two weeks of controversy. Photo / Photosport

All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith has been given a formal warning by New Zealand Rugby and has voluntarily stood down from this Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test against Australia at Eden Park.

In a statement sent tonight by NZ Rugby, a hearing into Smith's meeting with a woman in a toilet at Christchurch airport recently has found that the 27-year-old's behaviour amounted to serious misconduct.

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To that end, the organisation stated:

* In light of the impact on the reputation of All Blacks jersey and the commercial partners Aaron's actions amounted to serious misconduct

* Aaron Smith will be issued with a formal warning

* He will voluntarily stand down from assembling with the All Blacks for this weekend's Bledisloe Cup test match

* He will forfeit his selection fees and, * He is committed to getting the support he needs to deal with personal issues and to work on his relationship with his partner.

The disciplinary hearing was heard over two hours by a panel chaired by NZ Rugby's general manager of rugby Neil Sorensen, who said in the statement:

"It's important to note that as an employment matter, it is not usual to comment publicly on proceedings.

"However, both Aaron and his legal representative, and New Zealand Rugby acknowledge that in the circumstances, there is a need to make some public comment," he said.

"Aaron presented himself as genuine, honest and incredibly remorseful. We have also taken into account the fact that the very public nature of this incident, has had a significant impact on him personally.

"We accepted that he is genuine about wanting to improve himself and note that he himself has acknowledged he will need the support of his family, friends and rugby to move forward.

"We also noted that Aaron had already made a very public apology to his partner, friends and family, teammates, his employer, and rugby fans and he had already served a one-week stand down."

Smith left Durban for his Dunedin home before the recent All Blacks' 57-15 thrashing of the Springboks at Kings Park. His absence this weekend will mean he has missed the last three tests for the All Blacks.

- NZ Herald

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