Whether Aaron Smith was told to take another week off or came to the decision himself following his misconduct hearing as stated by New Zealand Rugby, one thing is clear - not being part of the All Blacks' tilt at a world record will hurt him.

The formal warning and forfeiting of his test selection fees after being found guilty of serious misconduct for entering a toilet with a woman at Christchurch Airport last month were likely taken in his stride. He will already have committed to getting support for his "personal issues" and working through his relationship with his partner.

But not being to help a team he dearly loves prepare to play the Wallabies at Eden Park as they bid for a world record 18th consecutive test victory will likely make this week an especially difficult one for him.

To that end, the decision - whether he made it or NZ Rugby did - is a slight surprise. While there is no disputing the fact that he brought himself, his team and NZ Rugby into disrepute with his daft decision, it seemed more likely that Smith would be brought back into the fold in the short term, at least to train if not to play.


His absence will mean there is less of a chance of a distraction as the All Blacks reassemble in Auckland today, but their performance in the 57-15 victory over South Africa at Kings Park after a difficult few days suggested little can rattle them.

This will be the third test in a row Smith hasn't played for the All Blacks, and with 52 starts in 54 tests, the 27-year-old, regarded as the best halfback in the world, is not used to standing on the sidelines.

The earliest he will play again for Steve Hansen's team is on November 6 against Ireland in Chicago, and he will almost definitely be involved in that one before he and the All Blacks move on to Rome, Dublin and Paris.

In the meantime, his rival for the No9 jersey, TJ Perenara, has another opportunity to impress, and has done that during his previous two starts against the Pumas in Buenos Aires and Springboks in Durban.

Smith's not done yet, though. He is clearly committed to getting the right support and his employers NZ Rugby haven't taken an overly punitive stance.

As he was found guilty of serious misconduct, NZ Rugby were within their rights to fine Smith, too. They obviously believe he has suffered enough in the court of public opinion, and to be fair to them and Smith, the media attention following the player's departure from Durban to his Dunedin home has been almost unprecedented.

"Aaron presented himself as genuine, honest and incredibly remorseful," said NZR's general manager rugby, Neil Sorensen. "We have also taken into account the fact 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 he 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 will be back, but for now can only watch from afar.