Return date uncertain for Conrad Smith

by staff

World class outside centre Conrad Smith is unclear how long his eye injury will keep him sidelined from the All Blacks.

Smith underwent surgery to repair a detached retina in his left eye on July 24, one day after approaching a Wellington specialist about what he believed was a minor eyesight problem.

The 30-year-old said his vision was worse than before the operation but he had been assured he was making progress.

He has already been ruled out of the first two Tests of the year - against Australia on August 18 and 25 - and was uncertain of his availability beyond that, although hoped he would be cleared for the Pumas test in Wellington on September 8.

"I'm not going to take any risks with it. It's all on the doctor's call really," Smith said.

"I know in a week or two, I'll probably be feeling great and want to play but I've just got to hold back."

His only exercise until this week had been golf but he returned to light training on Monday.

Smith said it was fortunate he chose to visit the specialist as a precaution shortly after his Hurricanes were knocked out of Super Rugby contention.

He remains unsure when he suffered the potentially-serious injury.

Meanwhile, Smith had no doubt long-time domestic and international midfield partner Ma'a Nonu would make a good fist of shifting from inside to outside centre if, as seems likely, that's what the national selectors choose to do.

Sonny Bill Williams is set to end his New Zealand rugby tenure with two Tests in the No.12 jersey against the Wallabies.

Smith said he had no problem with the selectors choosing a player on the verge of leaving the country ahead of young talent.

"I've always thought we pick the best available and win games," Smith said.

"For coaches, they can decide about building depth and things like that but, as a player, I just want to win. If that gives us the best chance, then I'm all for it."