Wayne Smith will step down from his role as New Zealand assistant coach following this year’s Rugby Championship, ending a 20-year association with the All Blacks.
Smith, who recently turned 60, has been a key member Steve Hansen’s coaching staff as the All Blacks won back-to-back Rugby World Cups.
His prowess on the training pitch helped earn him the nickname “Professor” but he has decided now is the right time to step away from full time coaching.
“It’s unbelievable to think that I’ve been involved in playing and coaching with the All Blacks for 20 years, a third of my life,” Smith said.
“I’ve had an incredible time and shared in some fantastic experiences. But it’s time to hang up my coach’s whistle for a while, take a bit of a hiatus, freshen up and spend some more time with my wife Trish and our family.”
Prior to taking up coaching, Smith made 17 Test appearances for the All Blacks as a fly-half and New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew paid tribute to his impact on the world’s No. 1 ranked side.
“On behalf of everyone involved in New Zealand Rugby, I want to publicly acknowledge the incredible contribution ‘Smithy’ [Smith] has given to the game,” Tew said.
“He has guided numerous players in their careers, from club level through to the All Blacks, is undoubtedly one of the great thinkers in the game and has made as great a contribution to the legacy of the jersey and everything it stands for than anyone else in the modern game.”