Smith ponders England offer with Lancaster expecting to land Kiwi
21:35 GMT, 26 April 2012
Stuart Lancaster has confirmed that he is awaiting decisions from Wayne Smith and Mike Catt after inviting them to join his England management team, but emphasised that he would retain hands-on control as head coach.
Following a fortnight of speculation, Lancaster revealed – as first reported by Sportsmail – he held talks with ex-All Blacks coach Smith in South Africa last week about a long-term role within the national hierarchy.
The Kiwi is pondering whether the offer but admitted yesterday he can see England emerging as a force and the prospect of being involved when they become a threat to his native New Zealand leaves him feeling uneasy.
Offer's open: Wayne Smith is wanted by England boss Stuart Lancaster
Nevertheless, the assistant coach of Waikato Chiefs is expected to accept, judging by the tone of Lancaster's comments.
He is also confident that Catt will accept an interim post for the tour of South Africa and immediate build-up period.
After Smith suggested that the scope of the job being offered to him was vague, Lancaster attempted to clarify the matter, saying: 'We were keen to get Andy Farrell and he has chosen to stay at Saracens. The next step was to find an Andy Farrell replacement and to me the stand-out candidate was Wayne Smith.
'He's got some decisions to make now. The lure of international rugby is strong for him and he was excited by the vision I presented of where the national team is going. I talked to him about the history – the journey from the last World Cup to the end of the Six Nations and he said that reminded him of the situation the All Blacks were in 2004.
'We have offered Wayne the same role Andy did. Wayne is defence coach for Waikato Chiefs but he can also coach attack and he will be coaching attack (if he joins England). He's got a lot of experience, a southern hemisphere background and he's been to World Cups.'
Back in the fold: World Cup-winner Mike Catt could return to the England set-up
Just to re-assert his own desire to maintain direct working contact with the players, Lancaster added: 'I will keep the role as head coach and the job is to work with the commercial team, media, directors of rugby in the Premiership, the RFU, but it is a coaching role too.
'I will set the framework of how we play and the coaches will work on the detail. It's a team – myself as head coach, Graham Rowntree as forwards coach and Wayne would be backs coach.'
Alex King of Clermont Auvergne was considered as a short-term coaching option for the South Africa tour, but instead Lancaster has lined up Catt, who is poised to leave London Irish.
It is almost certain that an agreement will be reached and the main coaching team of Lancaster, Rowntree and Catt will be supplemented by two temporary in-house RFU appointments – Jon Callard and Simon Hardy.
Rebuilding: Lancaster is in the process of revamping his England coaching team
Smith outlined his thinking about the England offer by saying: 'I've got major considerations to make over the next 10 days. Family is a big one. The Chiefs are a major consideration and the third one is having put the last eight years of my life into coaching the All Blacks and trying to win a World Cup.
'I'm going to have to search inside myself to see whether I could coach a team against them – particularly a team that has a coach in Stuart Lancaster who has real clarity of vision. He's going to turn them into a force so it's going to a team that over time will potentially challenge the All Blacks, so I've got to be clear in my mind that I could be a part of that.'
Referring to Lancaster, Smith added: 'He's very humble and he knows what needs to be done because it's not just about coaching the players, it's aligning all your provincial coaches and club coaches. That will be his major role. He wants on-field coaches. He will be in charge of strategy and alignment.'
Wasps could qualify for the Heineken Cup if they can stave off relegation and administration. Dai Young's side will make the cut for Europe's premier tournament if Clermont or Edinburgh go on to win the title this year, as Wasps will be the highest-ranked non-French club not to have already qualified.