Tony Robson wrote one of the best articles we have so fat read about old boy Conrad Smith, as a lead up to his 100th Super Rugby Game on friday night. Some of the article is below, the rest you can read here.
Conrad Smith's been working his unconventional angles from the start.
At Francis Douglas Memorial College Smith's mates remember him as an all-rounder, a debater of note, runner-up dux and a wily halfback with a competitive streak in everything he did.
On the cricket field he dreamed of being a lusty hitter like Chris Cairns, but former classmate Brendon Hart says a ''skinny Rod Latham'' was closer to the truth.
''As a cricketer in the first XI I would describe Conrad as slow, too enthusiastic,'' Hart said this week with a laugh. ''The late cut was his only shot. He would just sit back and play it to third man, every ball.''
Smith's father, Trevor, represented Taranaki in cricket and reminded his son recently that his favoured shot was a product of the family hallway where his go-to shot was into an adjacent room at point during marathon matches against his brother, Nathan.
It's a quirky story that says a lot about a bloke whose ability to out-think rather than outmuscle his opponents has been a feature of a storied rugby career that will chalk up another milestone at Westpac Stadium today.
Smith will become the sixth man to make 100 appearances for the Hurricanes in a journey that doesn't fit the modern rugby cliche.
Hart said Smith had always been small, a first five-eighth who ended up playing halfback in the 1999 first XV.
''These days he's deceptively big, but he wasn't in those days,'' Hart recalled of his former college team-mate. ''I always remember he wanted to play second five-eighth, centre. His flatmates and friends at Uni in Wellington, guys such as Michael Barnes and Scott Ireland, were all playing premiers straight away, but Conrad wanted to play in the midfield and I don't think he ever considered the thought of going back to halfback.
''The thing with Conrad is he wasn't really playing rugby because he wanted to go anywhere, it was because he enjoyed it and he enjoyed that position.''
At Smith's wedding last year there were a noticeable lack of rugby stars in attendance and Hart said that was because he'd never let the sport become his sole focus.
''What's pretty cool about him is he's not a system child. He came through the ranks, he's a lawyer, a lot of his good friends aren't footy players. He puts a massive effort into catching up with all his friends and family,'' Hart said.
A ''decent sized'' group of his former classmates and close friends will make the road trip down from Taranaki for today's match and Hart said Smith wouldn't hesitate to do the same if the tables were turned.
''It's pretty awesome. He gives up a lot of his time for various things and people and he's always forthcoming. I know if Francis Douglas ever needed him for anything he would bus there to try and do it.
''He actually loves the game. That's why he does it week in week out and why he stays at the Hurricanes regardless of whether it's a losing side. He puts everything into it. I don't think he has ever had the passion to play for anyone else and he's the same with OBU.''
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