Smith positive about rugby future

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Lynn McConnell     31 Jul 2014     Getty Images

He only signed a one-year extension to his contract last year in order to see how he came back after his sabbatical and he said he was feeling good and positive and was keen to be available for World Cup selection if wanted.

Smith will play a rare game for Wellington as he attempts to get back into match mode when they play an ITM Cup warm-up game against Manawatu on Friday. He'll play 40 minutes in the game and probably another 40 in the warm-up 'game of three halves' for the All Blacks against Northland and North Harbour next week.

While well versed in the types of training camps ahead of a campaign, Smith said the focus this time was about preparing for an Australian team that was looking 'pretty dangerous'.

"I think you can get a lot out of it, just planting a few seeds which is generally what the coaches try to do. If it's only a few key things you are going to take into the game I think the earlier we get an understanding of that as players we get a lot of benefits out of it in the game," he said.

Smith wasn't sure if there were specific benefits for the Test teams from winning the Investec Super Rugby final at the weekend.

He said as a kiwi he wanted the Crusaders to win, but he didn't think it mattered a lot overall.

"Although there will be a big swag of players from both teams, there'll be enough differences and it is a whole different environment that won't effect too much on the Test match that follows," he said.

He said there was some interest, especially among backs, about the chance to play Sevens rugby at the 2016 Olympic Games, but it had been like that since it was announced the Sevens would be involved.

He added that in the last 12 months players who had been involved in Sevens before, and others, had talked about the Games and he didn't blame them, he said, because it was a unique opportunity to get an Olympic gold medal which was something most would jump at.

Assistant coach Ian Foster said he didn't think Sevens selection would impact on the All Blacks and Super Rugby in 2015 and it was more likely to be an issue in 2016.

Players who wanted to be involved would have to have time playing Sevens before the Games, he said.

So far as the two camps were concerned, he said they were working behind the scenes to try and ensure the best of both worlds for all involved.

Fullback-wing utility Charles Piutau said he was feeling great after recovering from the injury that kept him out of the England series and he had been able to play a full club game without any ill effects.

It had only reinforced the special part of being in the All Blacks environment when he had to miss the England series and he was pleased to be back amongst it.

Piutau said he fully expected plenty of pressure from contenders for places in the team to open the series against Australia and for that reason he was focusing on the now rather than giving consideration to the Olympic Sevens in two years time. As a former Sevens player, he said it was something he would think about more as it got closer.