All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith has today opened up on how the incident involving a woman in a Christchurch airport toilet last year badly affected him, saying he should have taken time away from the game.

Smith, who plays his 100th game for the Highlanders on Friday, said a break from rugby to repair the damage done to himself and his partner and family would probably have been better than his continuing to play for the All Blacks.

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After travelling home by himself from South Africa once the story broke in October Smith's form suffered badly.


"It was a huge mistake by me, obviously," Smith said. "Just the effects it had on me mentally - it really affected me and my performance. The way it hurt my family and my partner and myself, obviously, it was just a really tough time.

"I probably should have put rugby on the back-burner then and focused on myself and my family, but we're passed that, I've learned a lot from it and I think a lot of positives have come from that incident for me, personally, on the field and off-field. I'm just really excited about this year and I think it's finally coming out in my game.

"I've had heaps of help. I've done a lot of counselling and sought out the right people. But also from incidents like that you learn who your real friends are. It puts everything in perspective. As I've said, a lot of positives have come from it for me. I'm feeling really good in my life and with my family and hoping I can turn a page on that."

Smith, who struggled on the All Blacks' November tour and was dropped for TJ Perenara for the final test against France in Paris, said he re-discovered his love for the game once that tour was over.

"It got the point where rugby was over for the year and in the summer break - I remember thinking at Christmas that I was already excited to play."

Asked if he thought his poor decision at Christchurch airport might have hindered his playing 100 matches for the Highlanders, Smith said: "No, not for the Highlanders. If anything, I was jeopardising my All Blacks career."