Super Rugby

Hammett: Smith will lead ‘Canes

Hammett: Smith will lead ‘Canes

HURRICANES COACH Mark Hammett expects skipper Conrad Smith to lead the side out for its opening game of the Super Rugby season.

Smith caused some doubt by saying he was unsure when he would suit up for the Wellington-based franchise when he re-joined the side earlier this week following a long post-Rugby World Cup sabbatical overseas.

Hammett has clarified the situation, saying that the All Blacks centre would travel to South Africa with the squad with the intention of leading the team out against the Stormers in Cape Town on February 25.

“The plan is that Conrad will lead us out in the first game,” the second-year coach told the Dominion Post.

Hammett says the main focus is all about making sure Smith was physically and mentally 100 percent ready.

“He has had a long break and what we will not do is, for a long competition like this, pressure Conrad into playing if he's not happy that he's 100 percent ready. But I assure you it is, and always has been, our plan that Conrad will run out for that first game as our captain.”

Smith will sit out tomorrow’s pre-season clash against the Crusaders in Mangatainoka.

Victor Vito will lead the side in his absence.

The ‘Canes, who lost to the Blues last weekend, take on a Crusaders side that includes seven RWC-winning All Blacks, three of whom are in the starting XV, in its ranks.

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