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Smith stands down from Bledisloe Test

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/10/2016

All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith has voluntarily stood down from the final Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Auckland.

The decision follows his initial ban for one game after it was revealed that he had entered a disabled toilet at Christchurch airport with a woman in September.

After the revelation, New Zealand's first choice No.9 headed straight home from Durban, where the All Blacks were preparing for the final Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks.

New Zealand Rugby conducted a two-hour disciplinary hearing with the 54-cap Smith on Monday.

<span style="font-size:13px;">All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith has removed himself from selection for the final Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland in the wake of his tryst in a disabled toilet.</span> © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith has removed himself from selection for the final Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland in the wake of his tryst in a disabled toilet.

NZR general manager Neil Sorensen says it's not usual to comment on an employment matter.

However, both Smith, his legal representative and NZR acknowledged the need for some public comment in the circumstances.

Sorensen said the hearing concluded that Smith's actions amounted to serious misconduct and he would be issued with a formal warning.

He said the 27-year-old was committed to getting the support he needed to deal with personal issues and to work on his relationship with his partner.

"Aaron presented himself as genuine, honest and incredibly remorseful," Sorensen said.

"We have also taken into account the fact that the very public nature of this incident has had a significant impact on him personally."

Sorensen said the hearing panel accepted that Smith was genuine about wanting to improve himself.

The panel noted that the player himself acknowledged the need for 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, team mates, his employer and rugby fans, and he had already served a one-week stand down," he said.

Sorensen said both parties agreed there would be no further comment on the matter.

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