Fi­nal home test a ‘dream’ for as­sis­tant coach

The Timaru Herald - - CATALYST - MARC HINTON

The ad­min­is­ter of de­fence was a happy man on Satur­day night. That wasn’t quite a tear in the eye of Wayne Smith, but it wasn’t far from it.

The fi­nal lap of the track has be­gun for the All Blacks as­sis­tant coach, and de­fence guru, with the record-break­ing 57-0 dis­man­tling of the Spring­boks in Al­bany, Smith’s last test on home soil.

He steps aside af­ter the Bris­bane Bledis­loe and hands his de­fence clip­board over to Scott McLeod. It was the first time the All Blacks had blanked the South Africans since 2008’s 19-0 vic­tory in Cape Town, and just the fifth oc­ca­sion ever.

‘‘It was pretty spe­cial,’’ said Smith late on Satur­day night. ‘‘We knew there was go­ing to be a whole- hearted per­for­mance, that there was go­ing to be some­thing pretty good. We were con­fi­dent of that.

‘‘But that was spe­cial. It was bru­tal on de­fence, and it was bru­tal on at­tack, and that’s what you’re look­ing for. And I don’t think I’ve seen a bet­ter for­ward dis­play in tak­ing apart a team than that.’’

It was typ­i­cal Smith, de­flect­ing from his team’s de­fen­sive master­class to praise an­other as­pect of the per­for­mance. But he was adamant the ef­fort from his big men up front had been cru­cial.

‘‘It’s sort of a dream per­for­mance to fin­ish on. All-round too. That’s the best for­ward dis­play I’ve seen for ages.

‘‘The at­ti­tude was re­ally good. You can tell early in the week what the ten­sion is like, and what the edge is like, and you need a bit of edge to have a per­for­mance like that. I could tell early on this was go­ing to be a pretty big per­for­mance.’’

But there was no doubt that Smith was per­haps the only per­son at the sta­dium more rapt with the zero on the score­board, than the 57.

‘‘It’s been a while com­ing this year,’’ he re­sponded. ‘‘We haven’t been quite as good this year. If you’re steal­ing their li­ne­out ball it makes de­fence a wee bit eas­ier – you don’t ac­tu­ally have to tackle.

‘‘We’ve wanted to step up the de­fence for a while, wanted to be more phys­i­cal, and tonight was the test be­cause the Spring­boks had been play­ing well.’’

And those emo­tions? Had it home that this was the last time he will rep­re­sent the All Blacks in New Zealand?

‘‘Yeah, it has,’’ he said with a broad grin. ‘‘I was just hav­ing a beer in the chang­ing rooms with the boys. The Boks came in, as they al­ways do. It’s sur­real to think it’s the last one.’’

Wayne Smith said the All Blacks were ‘‘bru­tal on de­fence, and bru­tal on at­tack’’ against the Spring­boks.

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