Smith lands back on home turf
We’ve all watched Aaron Smith propel to the top of rugby greatness, but what of his provincial team back in his home ground? After patiently waiting nine long years the time has finally come.
Smith’s first appearance for his home team was back in 2008 when he was not long out of Feilding High School. He was just 19 years old when he played his first game in the Mitre 10 Cup. In 2010, Smith was given the honour of playing for the Maori All Blacks, and two years later the All Blacks. The next decade was spent developing into the fast passing scrum half currently regarded as the best in world rugby. Alas, the All Blacks’ season is now on hold, and Smith has returned to his regional roots.
The current Covid-19 pandemic has given opportunities rather than challenges for Smith who appreciates the chance to play some Super Rugby for the Highlanders and to come home and play some rugby for Manawatu.
The Manawatu Turbos welcome the experience Smith brings to the team. This year’s squad has some fresh new faces that have only to gain from his introduction.
There’s a drive and passion that’s needed to get up and play rugby at a professional level everyday to which Smith credits all the little things that make up the sport, preparing for the game and being able to become the best version of yourself by doing what he loves most.
He expresses his gratitude in being “lucky to get to train and test my body, test my mentality against other great athletes”. Being the hardest worker in the room has always been his objective and he plans to continue to fulfil this mindset throughout the Turbos’ season.
The last 11 years have had some massive changes to the Manawatu Rugby environment with Smith recollecting memories of playing alongside now assistant coach Aaron Good. He remembers the times of having two squash courts for a gym and an old house as their training base, noting the changes over these last years as a massive advancement.
With Nehe Milner Skudder being the only member of the squad that Smith has played beside, the new dynamic of the team is a reminder of just how long these absent years have been.
He believes the high grade of talent coming through also reflects on the staffing with Braydon Iose as vice-captain and Jamie Booth as captain this season.
Smith also comments on the upcoming talent from Feilding High School, Palmerston North Boys’ High School and Whanganui with players such as Tyler Laubscher, Josiah Maraku and Drew Wild impressing the Rugby World Cup champion.
This season has some exciting changes which involve two of the games being held in Johnston Park in Feilding. Smith grew up in Feilding and is eager to get the chance to have the Feilding community, who have supported him this whole way, now watch him on their local turf. He hopes his family, friends and the residents of Feilding are looking forward to going along as much as he is.
“Even just to play in Feilding is very special…for all Feilding has given me over the years.”
With level one of the pandemic guidelines nearing we asked Smith what he aspires for in the season ahead. He hopes that the prospect of having a crowd gives the opportunity to provide a great match for the fans, while at the same time working towards the goal of making the play-offs with a great crop of boys.
The team has been working hard this week and look forward to putting this up-and-coming team into action against the Otago side.