Former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith is open to the idea of working alongside Stuart Lancaster in a new-look England set-up
Former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith has played down speculation linking him with a role in the England set-up by revealing he expects interim coach Stuart Lancaster and his assistants Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell to be given the chance to continue their good work.
Smith, currently working with Super Rugby side the Chiefs having also coached the All Blacks, the Crusaders and Northampton, ruled himself out of the running for the England job earlier this year but has since hinted that he would be prepared to work with both the leading candidates - Lancaster and former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett.
However, he has been impressed by Lancaster's impact on England since taking temporary charge and full expects him to be rewarded for an impressive Six Nations campaign. "Stuart Lancaster has done a hell of a job in his short time as national coach," he told therugbysite.com. "England have not played the best rugby in inter galactic history, but they have come together as a team, built belief in each other and played with pride. I assume Lancaster will now get the England job on what he has achieved so far."
Smith, who helped orchestrate the All Blacks success at last year's Rugby World Cup, could yet bring some much-needed experience to the England coaching team. Backs coach Farrell was only loaned to England for the duration of the Six Nations by Premiership side Saracens and has since returned to his day job leaving a key void ahead of June's tour to South Africa. But Smith anticipates Farrell's return to international duty should Lancaster get the nod from the Rugby Football Union.
"As I said before, rightly or wrongly, I assume Stuart Lancaster will get the England job," he reiterated. "I also assume he will be able to get Andy Farrell out of his Saracens contract and keep Rowntree on board. That is what I think will happen, but it is win, win for England at the moment, because I also have huge respect for Nick Mallett's abilities. I await the puff of smoke with interest."
Any move for Smith would also encounter problems due to his two-year deal with the Chiefs but he remains open to the idea. "Could I work with Lancaster? I don't know the man, I like where I am at the moment, but I respect what he has achieved. And is that question the right way round?"
While acknowledging the progress England had made under Lancaster, Smith hinted that his knowledge could help them take the next step. "England played a type of rugby to limit mistakes and put pressure on the opposition. With a new captain and a lot of inexperience in key positions, it made pragmatic sense. But Lancaster will know that as far as England have come, they will have to keep improving if they are to compete with the southern hemisphere.
"They play South Africa four times, New Zealand, Australia and Fiji before the end of the year. They won't beat those sides just smashing the ball up. They will need an attacking strategy and they will need alignment with all the coaches and players."
For more on Rugby, visit ESPNscrum.com
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