Rugby: Chiefs sign Smith as assistant coach

By Wynne Gray

Wayne Smith will help Chiefs' coach David Rennie. Photo / Simon Baker
Wayne Smith will help Chiefs' coach David Rennie. Photo / Simon Baker

Wayne Smith, longtime member of the All Black setup, has signed on as an assistant coach for the Chiefs.

The 54-year-old has signed a deal to help coach Dave Rennie as franchise officials search for ways to rebuild the misfiring Super 15 side.

Smith will join Tom Coventry as an assistant to Rennie for the next two seasons.

Chief executive Gary Dawson said: "The Chiefs are thrilled to have a coach of Wayne's calibre onboard. Wayne is internationally recognised as an outstanding coach and we are very fortunate to have someone with his experience, knowledge and skill join our coaching group. Both the Chiefs squad and region will benefit hugely from Wayne's decision to join us."

Smith signalled this would be his final year with the All Blacks after starting as a technical assistant in 1998, graduating to coach for two years in 2000 then resuming with the current panel in 2004.

Most expected his coaching future would be overseas after the World Cup but Smith has signed with the Chiefs for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

That shift will have some intriguing player consequences, with a number from around the country, but especially from earthquake-affected Christchurch, keen to shift and tap into Smith and Rennie's guidance.

Head of that list may be Sonny Bill Williams, while others such as Ma'a Nonu and Aaron Cruden are also contemplating franchise switches.

Smith has links to the region. He was born in Putaruru and played as a five-eighths for Waikato age-group and the provincial B side.

He moved to Christchurch in 1979 and became an All Black a year later, playing 17 tests before turning his skills to administration, then coaching.

He coached the Crusaders from 1997-99 while also taking on the role of assistant coach with the All Blacks from 1998 and at the subsequent World Cup.

After that tournament failure, Smith was elevated to All Black coach with Tony Gilbert and Peter Thorburn. They worked together for 12 wins in 17 tests but their alliance came to an end late in 2001.

After the All Blacks were beaten by the Wallabies that year, Smith questioned his future with the side.

The NZRU also had second thoughts and John Mitchell was appointed over Smith, who left to coach Northampton.

He returned in 2004 with Steve Hansen to assist Graham Henry and has now been involved in coaching the All Blacks in more than 100 tests.

- NZ Herald

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