New Zealand v England: Influential centre Conrad Smith ruled out of third Test with broken thumb as Kieran Read prepares for return

Smith will be replaced by either Malakai Fekitoa or Ryan Crotty as Read is nearing a return from concussion

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The Independent Online

New Zealand centre Conrad Smith has been ruled out of Saturday's final Test against England with a broken thumb.

Smith sustained the damage to a bone in his right hand during the 28-27 series-clinching victory at Forsyth Barr Stadium and will be sidelined for five to six weeks.

Malakai Fekitoa or Ryan Crotty are in line to replace the outstanding 32-year-old midfielder, who was a try-scorer in Dunedin.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen will unveil his new outside centre at Wednesday's team announcement, with Fekitoa the favourite to start after spending the first two Tests of the series on the bench.


"We have an idea of who we'll go for, but we don't need to tell England who that is," Hansen said.

"Ryan's been there and done that and been in the atmosphere, but what it'll come down to is whether we think Malakai's ready or not."

Number eight Kieran Read could return at Waikato Stadium after missing the Auckland and Dunedin Tests through concussion, while Beauden Barrett is a candidate to replace Aaron Cruden at fly-half.