All Blacks fullback Smith sidelined with hamstring strain
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — All Blacks fullback Ben Smith has been sidelined for six to eight weeks with what has been described as a high hamstring injury.
The injury, sustained in last Saturday’s match between Smith’s Highlanders and the Chiefs, rules him out of the remainder of the Super Rugby season and may jeopardize his fitness for the start of the Rugby Championship in late July.
That, in turn, may impact on Smith’s readiness for the Rugby World Cup which begins September in Japan. The All Blacks have already lost one fullback, Damian McKenzie, to a knee injury and the loss of the 75-test veteran Smith would be a major blow.
There was speculation when Smith left the field on Saturday that his injury was more serious. He had a head knock in the same incident and received careful medical attention on the field before being assisted to the bench.
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger told reporters after the match that Smith’s main concern was the hamstring strain.
“He’s also got a good laceration on his chin so he’s getting stitched up,” Mauger said. “Structurally, he’s fine, it’s just a soft tissue (injury).”