OPINION: The biggest thing that grates about the possibility of losing Wayne Smith is the fact that England are likely to win his services.
Anyone but England, Wayne! Ok, maybe we could add the Springboks to that.
But really, the men in white are the team that get under the skin of so many New Zealand rugby followers through their age-old arrogance and endless resistance to embrace a free-flowing approach.
The main worry is that Smith could change that single-handedly.
Arrogance is not a word anyone would associate with Smith, one of the genuine nice guys of the game.
And everyone knows his love of a 15-man game, embracing attacking play form the front row to the fullback.
It would be arrogant of us Kiwis to label England a sleeping giant. They have, after all, won the World Cup in 2003 and dealt out their faire share of frustrating results for the All Blacks over the years.
But they are also guilty of underachieving given their massive resources in playing numbers and wealth.
If they could break some old habits they could be far more successful.
Smith has the ability to wake the Poms from their slumber and energise their game.
He has instantly transformed the Chiefs with his meticulous eye for detail and the worry is he could do something similar with England.
It might be the last challenge for Smith.
It's certainly hard to see what's left for him to achieve in New Zealand rugby now. He has won everything from Super Rugby titles to a World Cup.
He admits he's facing an emotional decision as he considers what would obviously be a lucrative opportunity to join the Twickenham set up.
Anyone who knows Smith will appreciate that. I don't know that I've met a prouder All Black than Smith. As a player, a video analyst, a selector, an assistant coach and a head coach, he has lived by the highest standards that he demands of all those around him.
He really does posses one of the best rugby brains in the business. He has an eye for detail that few, if any, can match.
Many will argue we can't afford to lose him. Given the England coffers it's probably more a case of we can't afford to keep him.
And who would deny Smith a massive payday after all of his devotion here, even if it came offshore?
Yes, it's painful to think of all that intellectual property being lost.
It's more painful to think of England being the benefactors.
It's even more painful to ponder the thought of the Poms meeting the All Blacks in the 2015 World Cup final in England and Smith sitting in the coaching box with the red St George's cross on it.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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