Rugby World Cup: Calls grow for 'young pup' Wayne Smith to stay on as Black Ferns coach

Calls are growing for Wayne Smith to stay on as Black Ferns coach, after masterminding a miraculous turnaround that saw them win the Rugby World Cup.

Smith will step away from the role after he was originally only brought on as a director of women's rugby in April.

Following a damning review into the team's culture and former coach Glenn Moore's resignation, Smith took the reins and led his team to an unlikely title.

NZ ended tournament favourites England's 30-match unbeaten run, and in the process, took the country by storm with their play and personality.

Smith's position was always meant to be only temporary, with NZ Rugby moving quickly to replace the departing guru.

But rugby broadcaster Ken Laban has urged the powers at be to do everything they can to keep from retiring, and believes the 65-year-old still has plenty to offer.

"He's such an important part of the brand given the success that he's had in the game," he told Sky Sports Breakdown.

"It's for me to have an opinion from the sideline, but if I was the chairman Mark Robinson, one of the most important meetings I would be having over the next couple of weeks would be with Wayne Smith and I would be doing everything possible to try and talk him out of retirement.

"I looked at a couple of things today; Pete Carroll, the head coach of the NFL Seattle team, he's 78-years-old…Bill Belichick of the Patriots, he's 70…Wayne Bennett, the legend from the Broncos, he's taken over a new team next year, he's 73.

"Smithy is only 65, he's a young pup by comparison, he would've only had the gold card for two weeks."

Should Smith depart, Laban has urged NZ Rugby to look to employ a female as coach.

"I think that after Smith, the next head coach should be a woman, if not, a co-coach," he said.

"I see great value and great benefit not only for the Black Ferns, but also for the game itself for Smithy to stay in a role while we manage that process.

"Whether it's going to be Whitney [Hansen] or one of the Super Rugby Aupiki ones to come through - to me, that would represent the ideal."

Former Black Fern Chelsea Semple echoed Laban's sentiments, and hoped Smith stays on with the team in some capacity.

"To be fair, Smithy did not come into the Black Ferns with the intent to be head coach, he came in as an advisor, as someone to help with the coaches, help Glenn Moore, who was the coach back then," she said.

"Then everything happened with the review and Moore left the team, Smithy was the only one who could step in.

"He said all along he didn't ask for this job, but he's ended up doing it, so perhaps it is a case of him actually stepping back, less hands-on and more of a coach-mentor role."