New Zealand’s Aaron Smith earns surprise recall ahead of Ireland, France Tests

Aaron Smith looks set to feature on New Zealand 's autumn tour of Europe after all following his surprise call back to the squad as injury cover for Brad Weber.

Highlanders scrum-half Smith, 32, earned the most recent of his 101 All Blacks caps when Ian Foster's side beat Australia in back-to-back Auckland meetings in August to successfully retain the Bledisloe Cup

He didn't travel with the rest of the squad for the Queensland portion of their Rugby Championship triumph, however, and instead remained in New Zealand to prepare for the birth of his son, Leo.

Head coach Foster has since been forced to rethink his plans after a head injury forced scrum-half Brad Weber to withdraw just nine minutes into Saturday's 47-9 defeat of Italy in Rome.

Weber, 30, was replaced by Finlay Christie and didn't return to the field after failing a head injury assessment (HIA), putting him in doubt to face Ireland (Nov. 13) and France (Nov. 20) in the next fortnight.

Fortunately, the ninth-most experienced All Black of all time was waiting in the wings, and he'll link up with the rest of the squad in Dublin prior to Saturday's clash with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

"It all happened very quickly and now I'm two hours from jumping on the plane to join the boys in Ireland," Smith said on a video posted to the All Blacks' official Twitter account.

"I've very excited to come back and join the boys. . . Two very big games for the lads, which is really exciting to be part of.

"I'm just looking to try and help where I can, and bring a bit of energy.

New Zealand made fairly light work of the Azzurri despite fielding a largely second-string side in Italy, but it looks likely TJ Perenara could start in Dublin after he was rested in Rome.

Do you think Aaron Smith should start ahead of TJ Perenara if he's fully fit? Let us know in the comments section.

It remains to be seen whether Smith will have enough preparation time to be involved against the Irish, though Foster will be glad to have such a veteran back among his ranks for the test against France.

Andy Farrell's side looked thoroughly convincing when they hammered Japan 60-5 on Saturday, while Les Bleus sealed a big win of their own after flourishing late to best Argentina 29-20.

"It was a pretty short conversation. She was like, 'Go, this is a great opportunity for you'," Smith said when asked about his wife, Teagan, took the news of his latest call-up.

"I'm going over with no expectations of playing, but I'll try to do my best to impact where I can."

The Rugby Championship titleholders are hoping to rebuild their status as World Rugby's top-ranked team having lost to South Africa at the start of October.

Having a star like Smith aboard will help in that regard, especially with Ireland seeking their third w inover the All Blacks in their last five meetings.

The Irish went without victory across their first 28 encounters with New Zealand, having first faced off in 1905, but the two teams have gone back and forth trading results in recent years.

However, Smith has a better chance of lining up against France in Paris later this month, with New Zealand targeting their 15th straight win over Les Bleus, whom they defeated to lift the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

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