• Aaron Smith Within a Haircut of Catching Justin Marshall for Run Ons

    Aaron Smith is straying into territory no one would have expected when he got his start.

    The All Blacks halfback appears poised to catch and surpass the record number of caps that is currently in the possession of Justin Marshall.

    Smith is on the slight side by Test rugby standards, or by any rugby standards, for that matter.

    Eighty-four kg is the sort of size that makes it highly improbable that Smith could play on for as long as he has.

    Larger players and violent collisions are not the sorts of characteristics one generally associates with football longevity.

    Smith is 29 and despite being one of the smaller number nines to wear the All Blacks jersey. Smith is around 10 kg lighter than Marshall was when he started 74 Tests for New Zealand. Add to that seven caps as a replacement.

    Smith first got on against Ireland in an Auckland test during 2012 and has made 73 tests as a starter and four appearances from the bench. He will catch Marshall, provided he can persevere for four more tests, provided that is, that he continues to warrant selection.

    Smith himself would acknowledge that more tests has provided him with more opportunities and that comparing players from different eras is always a problematic proposition, but it is not as though Marshall was from some distant past when rugby was far scarcer than it now is.

    New Zealand has a meeting with Argentina in Buenos Aires Sunday coming and Smith could equal Marshall if he gets the start, but there are indications that T J Perenara might start and compel Smith to wait for the next opportunity.

    The next chance would be in South Africa in early October.

    It sounds somewhat incongruous that one of the most durable of all All Blacks initially had his sights set on a career as a style of hair.

    He was working at a salon in 2009, even though a career in rugby was always on his mind.