Wayne Smith is being linked as the new coach of a major English rugby club.

The Times of London claims the All Blacks guru has emerged as a strong contender to replace Conor O'Shea as the new Harlequins director of rugby.

O'Shea will quit Harlequins at the end of the current English season, having been linked for the Italy national coaching job.

Smith, who is know was 'The Professor" and is considered among the best coaches in world rugby, is the favorite to take over at the London-based club and according to the Times, those suggestions have "caused a stir of excitement within the Harlequins squad".


Smith was integral to the All Blacks' successive World Cup victories in 2011 and 2015. He also helped the Chiefs win two Super Rugby titles.

He has coached in England before, heading the Northampton Saints in 2001 and 2004. England has been desperate to have him as part of the England national team set-up for several years.

When Stuart Lancaster got the top England job, he approached Smith and offered him a role but he turned it down.

The Times noted that the New Zealand Rugby Union "places great stock in the retention of intellectual property and they were anxious not to lose Smith from their set-up".

Smith took a role with the Chiefs before he re-joined the All Blacks ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

The 58-year-old announced after the World Cup that he would take a full year away to travel with wife in Europe and in New Zealand but Harlequins appear to have offered him a route back into the game and a new challenge.