Smith who is 30 years of age has had his ups and downs over his years with the Kiwis, taking his first full cap only back in 2011 against an Italy side who were not visible within the World Rugby top 10. Although, he did not impress for club or country leading up to the World Cup in 2011, leading to him being dropped for the tournament held on All Black soil.
Fast forward a few months and he had sorted his game and earned his place back in the squad after outstanding early year performances for the Highlanders. 2012 proved to be pivotal for the Kiwi as he took the Super League by storm, going on to be in never before seen form in 2013, scoring 6 tries in a season for country. This is where it clicked for him and his international career, gathering 60 caps over the past 5 years, making him another world class New Zealand player.
But now he faces one of the toughest decisions in any sportsperson’s career; whether to spare on in an attempt to seal his place in the squad for another few years… As this may seem like an easy decision, I mean who wouldn’t want to play for the All Blacks?! It is in fact a very tricky one, as getting into what is no doubt an almost unstoppable side is getting even harder as the years go on, with young talent flooding out of the ranks Hansen has more than enough options, meaning he might only scrape a couple of appearances. Looking at it from a personal point of view, is it even worth it for Smith? I mean, if I was 30 years old with years on years of professional Rugby taking its toll, I would be questioning whether it is worth the injuries which are becoming more likely, and could also be serious.
Maybe it would be better for him to take the prize and end his career abroad, it would make a lot of sense! That is also what New Zealand Herald’s Chris Rattue believes as he said that Ben Smith should ‘take the money and run’, as his days in New Zealand are looking foggier as the games go by. A ticket to Europe wouldn’t be too shabby for Smith, as it might as well be tied to a big fat pay cheque. Ben also go married last year, meaning that this move could be ever more likely, as it may give him the incentive to settle down, and the likes of France seems like the perfect place to raise a child, not that he has given any indication of doing so anytime soon, but the option is there.
Going back to the intense training he faces, this is also not as much of a problem, as the likes of Hansen’s January training camp is not on the cards as they prepare for the Lions’ visit next summer; the same for the regular gruelling training sessions, making Europe again the better choice as his physical and mental health will not be as tested as they would back home. Furthermore, due to his schedule being less occupied with 10 mile runs and crazy speed exercises, he will have more time to enjoy the finer things in life (nothing is finer than Rugby but you get what I mean) such as a nice cold beverage on his balcony in the South of France, which to anyone sounds top, but especially to an experienced sportsman.
Although, only time to think will help him to make the big decision, whether it is stepping out to face the Lions just a few days after his 31st birthday; or taking his Kiwi quality to a European team, either way he will be giving what he has to the great game, but where would you like to see him playing the next couple of years?