Smith looks to make sum­mer exit

Egham News - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Ed­die Gre­ville

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