New Zealand 'desperate' to keep Wayne Smith from England job

The head of New Zealand Rugby Union has said the organisation is "desperately keen" to hang on to former All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith.

Smith is considering an offer to take charge of England's backs under new boss Stuart Lancaster.

Steve Tew said Smith was an "incredible asset" to the All Blacks and one of New Zealand's "intellectual properties".

Smith, 55, the defence coach with New Zealand Super 15 side Waikato Chiefs, recently met Lancaster in South Africa.

Mike Catt is expected to be named as England's temporary backs coach for their tour of South Africa in June.

Wayne Smith's coaching career

  • 1997-99: Crusaders
  • 2000-01: All Blacks (head coach)
  • 2001-04: Northampton Saints
  • 2004-11: All Blacks (assistant coach)
  • 2012-present: Waitako Chiefs

The London Irish assistant will act as a replacement for Andy Farrell, who turned down a permanent position.

Smith is understood to have an exit clause in his Chiefs contract that could see him coaching at Twickenham after the Super Rugby season ends in August, but not before. With the position needing to be filled for the South Africa tour, Lancaster told BBC Radio 5 live he had spoken to Catt.

Speaking after a NZRU meeting, Tew said Smith was "an incredible asset to New Zealand rugby, not just the All Blacks but New Zealand rugby full stop".

He said the board were "desperately keen to keep him in New Zealand" and were "certainly not going to leave him without options".

Tew added: "He is one of our intellectual properties. He has been with us for so long and been such an important contributor to developing things that work in our environment that we think he is a special case to protect."

Smith coached Premiership side Northampton from 2001 to 2004 before returning to the All Blacks set-up as assistant coach.

Lancaster said: "[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.

England's tour of South Africa

  • Sat 9 June: South Africa v England in Durban
  • Wed 13 June: SA Barbarians South v England in Kimberley
  • Sat 16 June: South Africa v England in Johannesburg
  • Tue 19 June: SA Barbarians North v England in Potchefstroom
  • Sat 23 June: South Africa v England in Port Elizabeth

"The lure of international rugby is a strong one for him. He enjoyed his time at Northampton and in England and he was excited by the vision I presented to him."

Smith, who was part of the coaching staff as the All Blacks won the 2011 Rugby World Cup, told the New Zealand Herald he has "some major considerations to make". 

"Family is a big one - Mum and Dad are in their 80s so it's been great to be back in my home province again," he said.

Lancaster added that he envisages the role to be an integrated one, which would see Smith primarily overseeing the backs, but also contributing in other areas.

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

"It's a wide-ranging role but equally it's a coaching role as well and I will set the overall framework of how we are going to play and then the coaches would work on that detail."