New Zealand v England, 3rd Test
Conrad Smith ruled out with thumb injury
ESPN Staff
June 16, 2014
NZRU has announced Conrad Smith will be unavailable for at least a month © Getty Images

All Blacks centre Conrad Smith has been ruled out of the final Test against England in Hamilton, and will be unavailable for at least a month, after breaking his right thumb.

Smith finished the second Test in Dunedin with his right hand strapped after taking a knock early in the second half, and he had described the thumb as sore before learning the extent of the injury.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said Smith would be out of action for five to six weeks with the injury, which he said was similar but not exactly the same as that suffered earlier in the season by Chiefs and All Blacks fly-half Aaron Cruden.

''What we thought was only a muscle injury has turned out to be a broken bone for Conrad Smith in his thumb so he won't be considered for Saturday unfortunately,'' Hansen said.

Malakai Fekitoa or Ryan Crotty will replace Smith in the starting side at Waikato Stadium, with Hansen saying "we'll make that decision on Thursday".

"[We have an idea] but we don't need to tell England which one we're going to go for," Hansen said.

Fekitoa was chosen ahead of Crotty for a spot among the replacements for the Tests in Auckland and Dunedin, and he debuted at Eden Park,but Hansen said he had not forgotten Crotty's experiences in the All Blacks jumper. "[Fekitoa] been playing well and it's just whether we think he's ready to start. Ryan's been there and done that, and been in the atmosphere. That's what it'll come down to - whether we think Malakai's ready to start or not."

Hansen also would not be drawn on speculation that Beauden Barrett would start at fly-half, instead of Cruden, or whether Kieran Read was in his thinking after concussion.

"I'm not going to talk about that until Thursday," Hansen said. "We've got all week to get through. Part of the reason why we don't want to talk about it is England have got to do their homework on everybody rather than just 15 blokes.

"I'd like to tell you but I can't."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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