Wayne Smith to step down from All Black role
The coach was involved in both New Zealand's World Cup wins15:00 Sunday 21 May 2017, 15:00 21 May 2017
New Zealand assistant coach Wayne Smith has announced he will step down from his role with the national side with the Lions tour only weeks away.
He will remain in his position through the Lions series and the Rugby Championship before taking a sabbatical from rugby.
Smith lined out 35 times as a player for his national side and has been involved in the coaching set-up in various roles since 1998.
He was part of Graham Henry's management team for the successful 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign which saw New Zealand win the cup for the first time since 1987.
He stepped down after that victory and was courted by then England coach Stuart Lancaster, before deciding against a move north as he didn't want to divulge the secrets of New Zealand's win.
He took up a role with the Waikato Chiefs in 2012 and helped them win back-to-back Super Rugby titles before returning to the national set-up ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
An affable character who often shuns the limelight, Smith will be missed in the game but left the door open for a return down the line.
"It's unbelievable to think that I've been involved in playing and coaching with the All Blacks for 20 years, a third of my life," he said.
"I've had an incredible time and shared in some fantastic experiences. But it's time to hang up my coach's whistle for a while, take a bit of a hiatus, freshen up and spend some more time with my wife Trish and our family."
Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen. Image: ©INPHO/Photosport/Andrew Cornaga
Praising the man he has worked alongside for so many years, All Black Head Coach Steve Hansen said: "I would personally like to thank him for all his wisdom, support and hard work over the many years we have worked together.
"I'd also like to thank him, on behalf of his All Blacks family, for all the help he has given to each and every person involved in the team, not only the current group of players and staff, but all past players and management he has worked with."
New Zealand are due to play one warm-up match against Samoa before the test series against the Lions which begins on the 24th June.
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