Wayne Smith weighing up offer from Stuart Lancaster to join England


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The Independent Online

Wayne Smith will decide whether to accept an offer from Stuart Lancaster to join the England coaching team within the next 10 days.

Smith met with Lancaster in Durban last Friday night and he believes England, under Lancaster, have the potential to challenge New Zealand's supremacy and win the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil.

But before he is in a position to accept the job offer, Smith has to come to terms with the prospect of severing ties with the All Blacks and coaching directly against the team he helped guide to last year's World Cup triumph in Auckland.

England play New Zealand at Twickenham on December 1 and Smith foresees an intense rivalry developing between the two nations over the next three years.

"It is possible (I could coach England against the All Blacks). I have to search inside myself to see whether I can do that or not," Smith told TV3 in New Zealand.

"I have a lot of mates in the management team and a lot of people I love playing in the team. It is a pretty big decision.

"They are a team on the up with a lot of resources. I was very impressed with Stuart Lancaster. He has a clarity of vision that I think will make a difference up there.

"I think they will be a tough proposition over the next few years and therein lies one of my decisions. I am patriotic and I love the All Black jersey. That is why it is such a big decision. I will give it due consideration."

Smith, who has strong family ties in Waikato, signed a two-year contract with the Chiefs after the World Cup but his deal contains a break clause, which would allow him to leave the franchise at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

Lancaster appears to be closing in on recruiting Mike Catt as an interim backs coach for England's three-Test summer tour of South Africa.

Smith indicated that Lancaster's role will be more like a director of rugby, overseeing strategy and relationships with the Aviva Premiership clubs. Smith and Graham Rowntree would do the hands-on coaching.

Lancaster turned to Smith after Andy Farrell, who had made such an impact during his secondment to England during the RBS 6 Nations, decided to remain in position as head coach at Saracens.

Smith, the former Northampton director of rugby, says he has written "list after list" with his wife, Trisha, on the merits of moving back to England and will discuss it with the rest of his family this weekend.

"I have always had a strong pull to home," he said.

Smith's third key decision is whether he is prepared to leave the Chiefs, who he has helped guide to the top of the New Zealand Super Rugby table but the attraction of a return to England is clear.

"I love English rugby. I love that contest. I loved my time in England. Trish and I would be comfortable up there, we have a lot of friends up there," Smith said