Rugby: All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith enjoying dad time in COVID-19 isolation

Isolation has brought one very special bonus for All Blacks veteran Aaron Smith.

The 87-test halfback is "craving" for a return to normality, but the enforced break has given the new father a chance to bond with his son Luka. 

Smith and fiance Teagan Voykovich welcomed their first child in September, five days before the All Blacks departed for the failed Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan. 

Super Rugby was halted on March 15 after seven completed rounds, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New Zealand then went into countrywide lockdown a week later, forcing athletes like Smith into an environment foreign to them.

Smith told Newshub that while he has struggled to replace the structure of a professional rugby player, that has been part of his life for nearly a decade, alone time with his six-month-old has been rewarding.

"The upside to the lockdown is family time," Smith told Newshub.

"It's great to be a dad to my little boy. I feel like he is really getting to know me now that he sees me every day.

"The last month I've been home has been great. I look after the night bottle while Teagan looks after the morning. 

"We share duties during the day and just being able to take the pressure off her is cool.

"Rugby is a very selfish sport when it comes to spare time, so it's been nice to have plenty of that during all of this."

But Smith has tried to remain loyal to the type of tructure that has lifted the Highlanders co-captain to one of the greatest halfbacks to have ever worn the black jersey. 

"Everyone has a structure in life, but for a rugby player or professional athlete, we follow structure to a tee," Smith said.

"We have 7am stretching, 8am weigh-in, 9am hydration test and 10am meeting. 

"From 7am-5:30pm every day we are told where to be, what to eat and what to do and now we are stuck at home.

"I make sure I plan my day before I go to bed so I get up with a mission to achieve five or six things, including training.

"These few weeks in isolation - it's been interesting. I thrive on structure, so I'm just trying to get that sense of achievement with my daily lists.

"At home, I am in charge of the rubbish, the shopping, the dishes and the firewood - just some little jobs I try to get done every day - with maybe a little bit of Playstation or NetFlix when my boy is asleep."

And with the future of the 2020 season uncertain, Smith has tried to approach training like it's an extended pre-season.

Without the pressure of being match ready every seven days, the 31-year-old has focused on intense workouts to boost his fitness levels to hit the ground running whenever rugby resumes.

"For me when I train, I am training as hard as I can and try to beat my previous result or whatever. 

"It feels a bit like pre-season at the moment where I'm not building for a game, I am just trying to get into peak condition. 

"I miss footy like crazy and can't wait to get back playing when all this is over."

As for his downtime, Smith says when Luka is asleep there is time for a bit of gaming and streaming the latest hit on Netflix.

"We just finished Tiger King. Me and Teagan binge-watched it in two days.

"It was pretty crazy but I'm not really sure you will get anything out of it, but it's great if you are a bit bored."