All Blacks legend Conrad Smith says he'd be glad to avoid his beloved Hurricanes when current side Pau hit the field at the Brisbane Tens.

He also admits his time in professional rugby is almost over.

Smith, a 94-test All Black who formed a world-class midfield pairing with Ma'a Nonu, has travelled from his southern French base with his team for the Tens.

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A Taranaki native, Smith played his entire Super Rugby career - 126 games in total - with the Hurricanes, but never won a title.

They eventually broke their trophy duck in 2016, a year after his exit.

Now 36 years old, Smith said he was relieved to steer clear of the Canes in pool play and hoped to avoid a rematch later in the tournament.

"That would've been a bit strange," he said.

"I won't know a lot of the players, two years (away) and it seems like there's a whole new bunch of the guys playing, but I'll know a few.

"Our guys will be pretty keen, there's a good French contingent who are pretty excited to play down here and a few of us are from down here originally."

Pau are stacked with former All Blacks, including Smith, fellow 2015 Rugby World Cup winner Colin Slade, Frank Halai and Jamie Mackintosh.

Ex-prop Carl Hayman will also play in Brisbane as Pau's wild card.

On a personal level, Smith said he still felt fit and strong, and would carry on playing until another career opportunity arose.

But he admitted retirement was close.

"I've played longer than I thought I would," Smith said.

"I'm still enjoying it and the body's still good but it's more when other opportunities come along, it might be time to call it quits.

"I think we're getting near that stage."

-NZN

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