All Blacks’ strate­gist bows out with smile

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

DE­PART­ING All Blacks de­fen­sive mas­ter­mind Wayne Smith says his troops could not have farewelled him any bet­ter in his fi­nal home Test than to shut out South Africa in their 57- 0 Rugby Cham­pi­onship romp.

Smith will soon bring a sto­ried 20- year coach­ing ca­reer at the Test level – both as head coach and as­sis­tant to Graham Henry and Steve Hansen — to an end.

His fi­nal Test will be the third Bledis­loe Cup clash against the Wal­la­bies on Oc­to­ber 21.

Yet he was grin­ning from ear to ear af­ter the All Blacks’ tri­umph, say­ing he could hardly re­mem­ber a more dom­i­nant per­for­mance across the park.

NZ not only put on a de­fen­sive master­class, they scored eight tries on Satur­day.

“It’s sort of a dream per­for­mance to fin­ish on, all round. That’s the best for­ward dis­play I’ve seen in ages, it was in­cred­i­ble,” Smith told re­porters.

“Bru­tal in de­fence, bru­tal in at­tack and that’s what you’re look­ing for.”

Nick­named “The Pro­fes­sor”, Smith is con­sid­ered the All Blacks’ tac­ti­cal ge­nius and has helped en­gi­neer two Rugby World Cup tri­umphs.

He will be re­placed by exHigh­landers as­sis­tant Scott McLeod and then Smith will take to the road with wife Tr­ish for a mo­torhome hol­i­day.

But be­fore that hap­pens, Smith is keen to reach new heights with the side.

Up­com­ing trips to Buenos Aires and Cape Town, as well as their Bledis­loe dead rub­ber in Bris­bane, are a great chance for the side’s young guns to shine.

Smith said that, along­side Hansen and Ian Fos­ter, he had worked hard in 2017 on de­vel­op­ing his play­ers’ de­ci­sion­mak­ing skills.

“When a lot of th­ese young guys came in last year, it was easy. We just gave them a task to do and they just went for it,” Smith said.

“But you’ve got to de­velop their de­ci­sion- mak­ing, so we sort of over­loaded them in terms of, ‘ You’ve got to look for this’ or ‘ Th­ese are the sort of things you need to see’, and to com­mu­ni­cate them.

“I think that’s start­ing come through.” to

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