Lancaster head-hunts Smith

2012-04-27 13:17
Wayne Smith (Gallo Images)

LONDON, April 26, 2012 (AFP) -England coach Stuart Lancaster wants "stand-out" candidate Wayne Smith to join him as a member of his backroom staff through to the 2015 World Cup.

Former All Blacks fly-half Smith helped his native New Zealand win last year's World Cup on home soil, forming an impressive coaching trio along with boss Graham Henry and Steve Hansen.

Lancaster has a vacancy in his staff after former dual-code international Andy Farrell decided to stick with Saracens after being seconded to England from the Premiership champions for a Six Nations where the Red Rose finished runners-up behind Grand Slam champions Wales.

That tournament represented a prolonged audition for Lancaster, formerly in charge of England's reserve side, who was initially appointed interim coach following Martin Johnson's post World Cup resignation but who has since got the job on a permanent basis.

Lancaster met with Smith, who knows English rugby from his time in charge of Northampton, in Durban last Friday and now wants him to help form an England coaching trio along with forwards chief Graham Rowntree.

"(I had to) find the Andy Farrell replacement, look around to see who was the best person for that fit. For me, there is one stand-out candidate - Wayne Smith," Lancaster told BBC Radio 5 Live on Thursday.

"I met him and had a real good chat with him. He has some decisions to make of his own.

"Clearly the lure of international rugby is a strong one for him. He enjoyed his time at Northampton, he enjoyed his time in England.

"He was excited by the vision I presented to him about where we were going as a national team," said Lancaster, who will hope to follow Smith's example by guiding England to glory when they stage the World Cup in three years' time.

"Wayne has got not just a lot to offer from a coaching point of view, in terms of experience, southern hemisphere and he has been in World Cups."

But for Smith, now winning plaudits as coach of Waikato, the question of coaching against New Zealand is no easy matter.

"It is possible (I could coach England against the All Blacks). I have to search inside myself to see whether I can do that or not," Smith said.

"I am patriotic and I love the All Black jersey. That is why it is such a big decision."

Meanwhile Lancaster denied suggestions Smith would be the head coach in a new England set-up while he moved to a director of rugby post, saying he wanted to stay with the same sort of set-up that worked so well in the Six Nations.

"My role is to work with the commercial teams, the media, the directors of rugby in the Premiership, the RFU," said Lancaster.

"I will set the overall framework of how we are going to play and then the coaches would work on that detail.

"When Andy, Graham and I worked together I would set the basic framework of how we would play. It was always an integrated approach.

"Andy would lead on defence but he would have a view on attack and he would coach the set piece attack in the backs and the kicking game.

"Graham would lead on the forwards and he would be involved in defence and some of our attacking options off scrums and lineouts. The role for Wayne is the same as what Andy did."

Whatever happens, Smith will be unavailable for England's upcoming tour of South Africa and Lancaster said he had held talks with Port Elizabeth-born former England back Mike Catt regarding an interim coaching position.

Smith is set to make his decision on whether to accept a post with England within the next 10 days.


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