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50 Tests on Aaron Smith still excited

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Lynn McConnell     24 Jun 2016     Getty Images

Smith said he was excited about achieving his milestone in front of what has become his home crowd in Investec Super Rugby.

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"To play one Test match is special but to get to 50 just blows my mind. They always say time flies when you're having fun and the last four years has just flown by," he said.

His memories of the first Test were the desire to make sure he didn't do anything to prevent him getting on the field. He hadn't warmed up too hard in case he pulled a muscle and he took it easy during the haka to avoid another injury.

And when the kick-off started the game his feeling was that at last he was an All Black.

"I'm a part of this beautiful team and this beautiful thing and it was a wicked buzz and I was just so relaxed after the ball was in the air I was 'I've played a second in an All Blacks jersey, that's all that matters now'.

"I've had some awesome memories in the All Blacks jersey and I hope to add to that," he said.

Coach Steve Hansen said the first thing you thought about when Smith and fellow 50th Test achiever Brodie Retallick's names came up was that they were world-class, 'both as players and blokes'. They were both in the leadership group and had earned the right to be there through their performances and how they conduct themselves.

"We just need the same thing we get from them in the last 49 Test matches, really high-class performances.

"It's a great moment for them and they have come a long way in a very short time," he said.

Smith said the All Blacks had sharpened up some aspects of their play around the breakdown and he felt they had improved since their first Test of the season in Auckland.

The northern hemisphere sides seemed to be much better at disrupting the flow of ball in the breakdowns and the different level of physicality was a reflection that it was Test rugby and not Super Rugby.

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It had been talked about in the reviews but he said when the All Blacks get their breakdown right it was pretty hard to stop.

Smith said he was delighted fellow Highlander Elliot Dixon had been named in the side and selection on the blindside flank was good reward for in trusting his game which during the last two years had gone through the roof.

First five-eighths Beauden Barrett, who will start the game after the injured Aaron Cruden wasn't considered, said it was great to have the opportunity to start. Not too much changed for him and his preparation would not be any different.

It was about trying to make an impact and create a difference.

Smith said he always enjoyed playing with Barrett outside him, he was an exciting player to play with and he always managed to make you feel something was going to happen.

"He's not bad at turning nothing into something and you need that in Test matches, defence is such a big part of the game these days. The more times he touches the ball is better and from minute one [this week] he gets to do that so I'm excited to see him go," he said.