Smith looks to make summer exit
BRIAN SMITH is set to leave his position as London Irish’s director of rugby at the end of the season.
Reports suggest Smith will return to his native Australia, meaning the Sunbury-based club will need to look for a new chief, with former Ireland Grand-Slam winning coach Declan Kidney being touted as favourite.
Smith is in his second spell with Exiles having originally coached them from 2005 through to 2008, which included his side making the Heineken Cup semi-final.
He then joined the England set-up in 2008 but left after a poor 2011 Rugby World Cup. In 2012 Smith, 48, re-joined London Irish after taking over from Toby Booth, who went to Bath, but has failed to take the side back to the heights of their Premiership final appearance in 2009.
He looks set for the exit door along with strength and conditioning coach Steve Walsh and commercial director Jim O’Toole, who both departed in the last two weeks.
Although Smith’s contract runs out at the end of the season, the news will come as a blow to fans who are witnessing a changing of the guard.
Meanwhile, Smith dedicated London Irish’s 34-23 victory in the European Challenge Cup against Cardiff Blues to Ofisa Treviranus, who suffered a family bereavement. The Exiles ran out 34-23 winners at Madejski Stadium, moving them top of Pool 1.
Smith said the effort that his players put in was out of respect for the Samoa international No 8.
“We had a couple of things to deal with,” said Smith. “Our minds are with Ofisa who has a family bereavement to deal with so we are thinking of him.
“Part of the effort the boys put in was a sign of respect for everything he has done because we know he is hurting now.”
Smith highlighted the contribution of his captain George Skivington, who had missed the last two games due to failing late fitness tests. “It was pretty big to have him back because he’s such a natural leader,” said Smith.
“We have worked hard with Shane Geraghty, David Paice and Topsy Ojo, those boys are terrific lieutenants, but George is the general. You can see in the way he rallies the troops.”
Tom Homer scored 19 points as Irish ended their six-game losing run in impressive fashion.
The full-back kicked five penalties and two conversions as the Exiles won the first time since October 24. Winger Andy Fenby scored two tries in a manof-the-match display, while Geraghty, who was moved to fly-half in place of the out-of-form Chris Noakes, also went over.
Irish travel to Wasps on Sunday.
A different direction: Brian Smith could be on his
way back to Australia at the end of this season.