When Aaron Smith slammed that airport toilet door shut, he opened another one for TJ Perenara.

And the Hurricanes halfback has played so well in the No. 9 jersey it would be a betrayal if he is benched when Steve Hansen names the All Black side to face Ireland in Chicago next week.

Believe it or not, the future at halfback may well turn out to be TJ Perenara, not Aaron Smith. At the very least, Perenara now deserves to start some tests on a horses for courses basis.

Smith risked his own career when he found sex in a Christchurch disabled toilet irresistible. Leaving the moral arguments such as the insult to disabled people aside, Smith was grossly unprofessional. He forced senior team mates to judge him and was subsequently unavailable for two tests.

Advertisement

The former undisputed world's best halfback made history, as a man who entered a toilet cubicle and joined a queue. Perenara has been brilliant, revealing his strengths at test level, ones that Smith will never possess.

Yes, Smith - rated the best rugby player in the world by some - is still vital to the All Blacks' plans. His fast, pinpoint, flat passing is second to none, and always will be. But significantly, he was caught short in Hamilton, where Argentina tested the All Blacks through the middle and Smith was replaced just after halftime.

More awaits. Only Australia have players athletic enough to contemplate attacking the freewheeling All Blacks out wide. As England coach Eddie Jones intimated, when it comes to the All Blacks imitation is not flattering. Rather, it's an invitation to get flattened.

Hansen has publicly admitted his team face an onslaught through the middle, and must reinforce their defence in this area. And no one is more physically vulnerable than Smith. I also believe his running game was on the wane, even though it was working extremely well at the airport.

In contrast, Perenara has shown amazing strength for a halfback, winning turnovers on the ground and ripping the ball off forwards including the great Pumas muscle man Agustin Creevy. He is like a fourth loose forward.

When it comes to backing up, Perenara is the best halfback in world rugby. He has an amazing nose for a try. His instincts and workrate created a vital charge down score at Eden Park. Smith let his team mates down, and gave Perenara a chance. Perenara took it.

Perenara went to the World Cup as the number two halfback, and returned as the nominal number three. His response has been fantastic. Smith kind of treated understudies like Perenara and Tawera Kerr-Barlow with contempt via his arrogant airport sexcapade. Smith must be made to try and play his way back in. Perenara should be a starting troop at Soldier Field.




I'm with the Telegraph's rugby writer Mick Cleary, who is glad that we must wait two years more for the most eagerly anticipated clash in world rugby between the All Blacks and England.

In a nutshell, Cleary says that instant gratification is not the most gratifying experience at all. Less is more. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. "In this era of social media and instant access, it is more difficult than ever to preserve mystery," he wrote superbly.

Brilliantly put Mick Cleary. Those of us of a certain age remember waiting years for the chance to put matters right against teams like the Springboks or Lions. The anticipation was amazing.

I'm not one to say everything was better in the old days. It wasn't. But the constant diet of repetitive internationals has dumbed-down what used to be a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, the money grubbing administrators of world rugby see it in a very different way.




There he goes again, prattling about the Warriors during the international league season. Shaun Johnson seems like a great bloke, honestly. But where is his head right now?
First, he felt obliged to follow the standard Warriors party line about a move to Auckland being sure to sort out Kieran Foran. (Johnson and club boss Jim Doyle are apparently experts on mental illness).

Now Johnson is offering to take a pay cut to help the Warriors. There is a time and a place for this, and it isn't during the Four Nations tournament. Aussie captain Cameron Smith has got it right, telling the Sydney Morning Herald he wants the Kangaroos to be his country's number one team.

"State of Origin is bigger than the international team which it shouldn't be," the legendary hooker said.

As a colleague noted, Smith might not say this during the State of Origin. But still, well said. Over in the the Kiwis' camp, Johnson continues to chat about the damned Warriors. Maybe it explains why a powerful Kiwis side got smashed by the Kangaroos in Perth.