NRL: Smith contender for GM position

Warriors' search for coach has ex-Roosters veteran as one of many options.

One of the longest-serving coaches, Brian Smith has taken teams to grand finals four times. Photo / Matt King
One of the longest-serving coaches, Brian Smith has taken teams to grand finals four times. Photo / Matt King

Sacked Roosters coach Brian Smith is in the frame for a job at the Warriors but he is far from a hot favourite to land the head coaching role.

Smith has been on the club's radar since it became apparent in recent weeks that he was unlikely to survive at the Roosters into 2013. However, the club is still in the initial stages of its hunt for a replacement for Brian McClennan, with a raft of options being considered.

"Nothing has been decided yet - we're into a process," said chief executive Wayne Scurrah.

With the Roosters openly courting Storm coach Craig Bellamy for 2014 and Melbourne also confident of keeping their long-serving coach, the Warriors' prospects of luring their No1 target to Auckland appear to have dimmed.

The Warriors are chasing two high-level personnel - a head coach and a general manager of football to oversee the club's sporting operations. How the system will work, including who will be answerable to whom, will depend on the people.

Should the club land a veteran coach such as Smith or Tim Sheens, it's unlikely he would be expected to report to the general manager. However, should a relatively inexperienced coach be appointed - such as Tony Iro or Stephen Kearney - it's likely the Warriors will want a highly experienced figure in the GM role.

Although he reportedly turned down a similar role at the Roosters, Smith would appear to be a strong contender for the GM job.

Widely regarded as one of the best technical coaches in the game, the 58-year-old has a solid track record when it comes to helping clubs rebuild. However, he also has a reputation as a notoriously hard taskmaster who isn't always widely liked by his players.

Former Kiwis star Robbie Paul, who came under Smith's tutelage soon after joining Super League club Bradford, rated the veteran Australian as his best coach.

Paul credits Smith for helping to revolutionise the British game as it entered the Super League era by introducing tough new fitness training regimes and a fully professional attitude to what, in the mid-1990s, was still a semi-professional sport.

One of the longest-serving coaches in the game, Smith's 604 NRL games trail only Sheens' 669 and Wayne Bennett's 659 among active coaches. Over a 28-year career he has reached four grand finals, twice taking St George (1992/93), Parramatta (2001) and most recently the Roosters (2010) to the final day of the season. All the matches ended in defeat, leaving Smith with the unwanted tag of best coach never to win a premiership.

In 2010 he transformed the Roosters from wooden spoon winners to grand finalists, a feat that earned him the Dally M coach of the year award. But the Roosters' form dipped in 2011, the club finishing a season blighted by numerous Todd Carney drinking scandals at a disappointing 11th with a 10-14 record.

That form slide continued this year, when the Roosters finished 13th with an 8-1-15 record.

Over three Roosters seasons, Smith posted a 35-1-40 record.

His methods have spawned a number of successful coaches. Former Warriors coach Daniel Anderson - who led the club to the 2002 grand final - learned his craft under Smith at Parramatta. Former Bradford, Canberra and Penrith coach Matthew Elliott served his apprenticeship under Smith at St George, and multi-title winning British coach Brian Noble is also from the Smith stable.

Smith's brother, Tony, guided Leeds to their first British title in 32 years and also enjoyed success at Warrington after a mixed three-year tenure in charge of Great Britain and England, while his son Rohan coaches the Tongan team.

- NZ Herald

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