New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has urged his fringe players to wrestle the No.9 shirt away from Aaron Smith with work towards their next Rugby Championship outing against Argentina set to intensify this week.
Smith shone in last weekend’s 51-20 demolition of Australia, retaining his place following the All Blacks 12-12 draw against the Wallabies.
It means chances for TJ Perenara and Tawera Kerr Barlow have so far been limited for New Zealand – hosts of the next British & Irish Lions tour in 2017.
But with Argentina visitors to McLean Park on Saturday when the Rugby Championship resumes, Hansen has challenged his reserve half-backs to use Smith’s form as inspiration to step-up their own performances, if Kerr Barlow or Perenara are to feature more prominently.
“It’s all about them taking the opportunities when they come on and Aaron [Smith] has just been playing that well that you can’t afford to take him off,” he said.
“So we’re just developing along the other two guys along quietly and their challenge is to get up to his standards.”
South Africa visit Wellington after the Pumas, with the All Blacks then heading to Argentina’s Estadio Ciudad de La Plata before completing their campaign at Ellis Park.