Outgoing All Blacks coach Wayne Smith delighted with home send-off

  • 17/09/2017

Departing All Blacks defensive mastermind Wayne Smith says his troops couldn't have farewelled him any better in his final home Test than to shut out South Africa in Saturday's 57-0 Rugby Championship romp.

Smith will soon bring a storied 20-year coaching career at the Test level - both as head coach and assistant to Sir Graham Henry and Steve Hansen - to an end.

His final Test will be the third Bledisloe Cup clash on October 21.

Yet he was grinning from ear to ear after the All Blacks' triumph, saying he could hardly remember a more dominant performance across the park.

Barring a few early jitters, the world champions had cleaned the floor with the old enemy, putting on a defensive masterclass and scoring eight tries.

"It's sort of a dream performance to finish on, all round - that's the best forward display I've seen in ages, it was incredible," Smith told reporters.

"Brutal in defence, brutal in attack, and that's what you're looking for."

Nicknamed "The Professor", Smith is considered the All Blacks' tactical genius and has helped engineer two Rugby World Cup triumphs.

He'll be replaced by ex-Highlanders assistant Scott McLeod.

But before that takes place and Smith heads off on a motor-home adventure with wife Trish, he was keen to reach new heights with the side.

Upcoming trips to Buenos Aires and Cape Town, as well as their Bledisloe dead rubber in Brisbane, were a great chance for the side's young guns to shine.

Smith said that, alongside Hansen and Ian Foster, he'd worked hard in 2017 on developing his players' decision-making skills.

"When a lot of these young guys came in last year, it was easy - we just gave them a task to do and they just went for it," Smith said.

"But you've got to develop their decision-making, so we sort of overloaded them in terms of, `you've got to look for this' or `these are the sort of things you need to see', and to communicate them. That can clutter you a bit.

"I think that's starting to come through."

NZN