All Black star Aaron Smith has revealed his public toilet tryst cost him "mana" and the haka leadership.

Smith was sent packing from the All Blacks during the 2016 Rugby Championship and faced a disciplinary hearing after he was caught by travellers in a disabled toilet at Christchurch Airport with a woman who was not his partner.

The tryst occurred as the All Blacks prepared to travel to South Africa.

At the time, the 29-year-old - a veteran of 74 tests - was leader of the All Blacks haka.


But in a new book by veteran British journalist Peter Bills, The Jersey, Smith has opened up on how the incident cost him his mana and prompted his decision to offer to step down as haka leader.

"I was one of the first to say, 'I should not be doing it', and that is what happened," Smith says in the book.

"It's a part of the mana, isn't it? You lose mana when you do things like that. TJ Perenara took over and I was happy for him to do that because of the mana I had lost from what I had done."

Talking in The Jersey, All Black mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka also opens up on the scandal that engulfed Smith.

"What Aaron did was so severe for himself personally that it shattered him hugely," Enoka said.

"He needs to think why he screwed up. It was like a tide that crept up. You think you are indestructible and above different things. But suddenly you come crashing down in a huge way."

Smith went on to reclaim his starting spot in the All Blacks later in 2016 and in October 2017 led the haka again.

All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock leads the haka, before the first rugby test match between the All Blacks and France. Photo / Brett Phibbs.
All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock leads the haka, before the first rugby test match between the All Blacks and France. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

Also in the book, star first-five Beauden Barrett claims the All Blacks are not "revered enough" in New Zealand and hits out an an unhealthy "tall poppy syndrome".


"I don't think that's healthy - I think you should be encouraged and applauded when you do great things," Barrett, who has been an All Black since 2012, tells the author.

"It just does annoy me when the general public bring people down to earth when really, we should be applauding great achievements."

Barrett, who has won back-to-back World Rugby Player of the Year awards, said no matter how "good a win you get", the All Blacks were "always told by everyone" that it was time for them to get on with the next job.

"Whereas overseas, you do really appreciate the support you get over there for what the All Blacks achieve."

Ex-All Black prop Kees Meeuws also suggests the haka has lost its mana and calls for its use to be reduced.

Meeuws, an All Black who played 42 tests between 1998-2004, added the haka had become a "showpiece" and it should not be performed before every test.

"We should either have it at home or just away from home, like it used to be."

Talking in the book also about the haka, Colin Meads, who died in August last year aged 81, said emphasis on the haka had become too big. "We were haka-ed out there for a while and still are."

The Jersey by Peter Bills, Macmillan, RRP $44.99, publishing on 14 August.