21 Sep 2017

NZ Rugby says Smith investigation "on-going"

1:19 pm on 21 September 2017

New Zealand Rugby is not putting any time frame on the on-going investigation into All Black Aaron Smith's conduct surrounding last year's "toilet tryst"

at Christchurch airport.

Aaron Smith of the All Blacks during the Investec Rugby Championship match, All Blacks v South Africa ,AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand, 17th September 2016.

Aaron Smith Photo: Photosport

New Zealand Rugby engaged an independent laywer in August to investigate fresh claims that Smith had misled rugby authorities and asked a witness to lie during initial inquires into last September's incident with a woman in a Christchurch airport toilet cubicle.

NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said the investigation is an employment issue and there is no set deadline for its completion.

"We have an independent person and we're giving them the time they are required to do it," said Tew.

"Once all the information has been compiled I'm sure we'll get a report."

"We're conscious that time is moving on and we'll get it concluded as fast as we can but it is best to do it right rather than in a hurry."

NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew.

NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew. Photo: Photosport

Meanwhile Tew said New Zealand Rugby will be keeping a close eye on concerns that Japan is behind on preparations for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The event gets underway in exactly two years time and tournament director Alan Gilpin has raised concerns about progress on training venues and team bases.

Tew said he's confident the issues will be resolved given the two year lead time.

"I chair the audit and risk committee at World Rugby and we have the World Cup organising committee coming to our meeting next week because clearly any risk to the World Cup needs to be infront of that group."

"There are concerns but I'm sure World Rugby are working hard to help them alleviate them."

Steve Tew said it is also healthy to see a strong bidding contest underway to stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

France has announced it is willing to pay a minimum $275 million to head off competition from South Africa and Ireland to host the 2023 competition.

The three nations will make their cases to World Rugby next week with a final decision expected in November and NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said all nations benefit from a tight bidding war.

"All three countries have great pedigrees, all three countries have great venues and they're all putting a decent chunk of money on the table which is important because World Rugby only generates four years worth of expense income in one event."