Rugby: Why New Zealand icon Wayne Smith is ignoring retirement to mentor All Blacks, Black Ferns coaches

One of the most treasured pieces of intellectual property in New Zealand Rugby has been retained for the foreseeable future.

Double World Cup-winning coach Wayne Smith has been appointed in a new role - as performance coach of the Black Ferns and All Blacks.

The man dubbed 'The Professor' is now poised to impart more of his vast knowledge to the next generation of leaders.

He's still got one of the sharpest minds in the game, and New Zealand Rugby simply wasn't ready to let Wayne Smith walk.

Wayne Smith and Joanah Ngan-Woo.
Wayne Smith and Joanah Ngan-Woo. Photo credit: Getty Images

"[He'll] keep adding a huge amount of value, massive impact to anywhere he goes in the game," said NZR chief executive Mark Robinson.

"[I'm] delighted he's with us."

Especially considering the witty 66-year-old was about to head off into the sunset, away from the game altogether.

"[I] didn't think I'd be doing that much - that sounds like a lot of work," Smith joked.

"To start this in 2024, I think, is going to be something really exciting for me.

"I thought I was going to retire, but clearly not."

Last year, Smith guided the Black Ferns to World Cup glory, stepping in at the 11th hour - hired as director of rugby.

His new role as a performance coach could still see him win trophies, mentoring both incoming All Blacks coach Scott Robertson, who he worked with at the Crusaders, and his Black Ferns successor Alan Bunting.

"Having diversity of people, different perspectives, is really important for decision-making," Smith continued.

"Sometimes you choose old decisions that you've made before, and sometimes new solutions might be a better option."

Smith was an appealing option for New Zealand Rugby - which created the unique role specifically for him.

"He is right up there as probably the leading coach of the modern era," added Robinson. "Certainly in professional times."

With the day-to-day duties still to be ironed out, the 66-year-old is just as eager to learn and improve as he was 43 years ago.

"More than half the stuff I've done in my life hasn't worked, but some has worked."

Understated as usual from New Zealand's rugby professor.

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