Hansen confident ahead of Ben's switch to centre

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James Mortimer     16 Oct 2013     Getty Images

The sparkling Highlanders back will, unless the All Blacks spring a remarkable selection surprise, start at 13 against the Wallabies this weekend.

Smith, who scored eight tries in The Investec Rugby Championship, has been in command form, and some would suggest the best wingman currently operating in world rugby.

It is this form and now firmly established pedigree in the black jersey that has head coach Steve Hansen confident.

"We wanted him to really fill the jersey out and be comfortable in it," Hansen said.

"He's done that, and was probably the back of the Championship, if not the player of the Championship.

"He is in a rich vein of form."

Smith has only played one Test at centre, against Scotland, while he has played limited matches there at club level, usually starting at wing or fullback.

However Hansen said that Smith was considered cover for the midfield so had spent time in formation during All Blacks training sessions.

At the end of the day, there are no established options behind Conrad Smith, and the selectors believe it is time to begin the hunt.

"We've always said we need to find another centre," Hansen said.

"Conrad has been the one and only for a long time and now's the time to do that.