Wellington - All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith
announced on Friday he was leaving the world champions, saying he needed to
"take a break" from the game.
The widely respected Smith, part of the brains trust that
helped guide New Zealand to back-to-back World Cups, said he would step down at
the end of the Rugby Championship in September.
The 60-year-old said he had been involved in the All Blacks'
coaching set-up for 20 years and he wanted to spend more time with his family.
"It's been a real privilege but there's been a lot of
time away from home over the years," he told reporters.
"There are a lot of pressures and there is a lot of
Smith said he felt he was leaving the All Blacks in a strong
position, with a number of promising coaches coming through the Super Rugby
ranks who could replace him.
New Zealand Rugby chief Steve Tew called Smith "one of
the great thinkers in the game", while All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said
"he has left an ever-lasting legacy".
"Smithy is undoubtedly a true All Black legend,"
Smith played 17 Tests for the All Blacks at flyhalf before
moving into coaching.
He steered the Crusaders to successive Super Rugby titles in
1998 and 1999 and briefly served as All Blacks' head coach in 2000-01 before
deciding he preferred the assistant's role.
He was part of the All Blacks' 2011 and 2015 World Cup
triumphs and also worked as Chiefs assistant coach when they won Super Rugby
titles in 2012 and 2013.
Tew said no one had been earmarked to replace Smith and the
position would be advertised.
The successful candidate will join Smith and the rest of the
All Blacks staff for the start of the Rugby Championship in August.