Wayne Smith's contribution to New Zealand rugby would not exist without support of wife Trish video

NZN VIDEO

"I think it's going to be exciting" Wayne Smith

Wayne Smith's wife Trish stood at the back of the hotel press conference room and watched her husband announce his pending departure from the All Blacks.

Behind the scenes, it is where they both prefer to be. And where so much of their combined warmth and influence has come.

Publicly at least, the women behind the rugby men are often overlooked. But on this occasion New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen both made special mention of the sacrifice and support Smith's wife has long provided.

All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith and wife Trish have made a huge contribution to NZ Rugby.
Phil Walter

All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith and wife Trish have made a huge contribution to NZ Rugby.

Trish was only there to visit their young grandson after the announcement, and turned down one approach to be interviewed on camera. But her role cannot be overlooked.

READ MORE:
Smith to quit ABs
Williams is back for Blues
Barrett's struggles with help ABs

Trish and Smithy, as he is known to most, have been married for 35 years; all of those revolving around rugby. That much will never change. But the nice thing about him soon stepping aside is she is about to get her husband back.

Wayne Smith has been on countless overseas tours. Here he is with Steve Tew on the field during the Captains Run at ...
FAIRFAX NZ

Wayne Smith has been on countless overseas tours. Here he is with Steve Tew on the field during the Captains Run at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland in 2010 (File pic).

Smith has been involved with the All Blacks for the best part of 20 years - five as a player, 15 as a coach; over 200 games all told. The All Blacks are his family as much as Trish and twin sons Nick and Joshua.

He has been on countless overseas tours, and spent countless days away from home. That Smith has endured the best and worst of it all and emerged out the other side with immense global respect says everything about the man from Putaruru, and everything about the support around him.

Smith has been talking about taking their motor-home on a tour of New Zealand ever since he moved back to the Waikato in 2012. The odometer has remained largely stagnant. 

NZN VIDEO

Coach Wayne Smith has learned a lot over the years.

Trouble with Smith is his work ethic and commitment never allows him to take a genuine break. While most savour their Kiwi summer holidays, he spends hours watching video and compiling invaluable player reviews. His push towards adopting technology has been both a blessing and a curse. Tew said one of Smith's biggest problems is he can't say no to anyone but, soon, he will finally have no excuse but to leave his laptop at home - even if only fleetingly.  

Ad Feedback

The contribution of the Smiths to New Zealand rugby goes well beyond coaching. They have been stand-in parents, and caring mentors, to many. Sonny Bill Williams, Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown are among the high-profile players frequently welcomed into the their home. There are many others, too.

Trish whips up pasta or a roast; Wayne discusses all matters, passing on his endless wisdom that also makes him one of the best interviews in sport.

Wayne Smith has been a mentor to Sonny Bill Williams, as well as and many others/
FAIRFAX NZ

Wayne Smith has been a mentor to Sonny Bill Williams, as well as and many others/

Those extra lengths; those relationships and trust set Smith apart.

Honesty. Integrity. Loyalty. Smith harnesses all those traits. Over the years he has turned down so many enticing overseas offers - from the England national job to Harlequins and the millions that went with it - purely for his love of the game and genuine passion for the black jersey. Don't expect him to ever coach against the All Blacks - that's just not who he is.

Loyalty is also the reason Smith's arm has been twisted so many times to stay on well beyond when he thought he would.

NZN VIDEO

Wayne Smith: "I had a dream like any other kid".

Hansen is a big part of that, too. When Smith started his coaching career in the 1990s with Canterbury B, Hansen was his captain. In one anecdote shared at Friday's announcement, the pair recounted an amusing tale where Smith once sent Hansen, 33 at the time, home from training. Some details were disputed, but Smith told Hansen to call him when he was ready to return to training. In the end Smith had to call Hansen, known to have a stubborn side. Through the years, it has made them a perfect combination.

Hansen convinced Smith to rejoin the All Blacks management team for the 2015 World Cup as defence and counter-attack coach.

We all know how well that worked out. This time around, Smith had to tell Hansen's wife Tash to persuade him to let his close confidant walk away after the British and Irish Lions and Rugby Championship. Only then did Hansen stop applying pressure and begrudgingly accept he had no more chips to cash in.

"We've squeezed a few more years out of him and I'm very thankful for that," Hansen said.

Ultimately Smith didn't want to reach the point where the hunger leaves him. His legacy is entrenched at the Crusaders, who he helped to their first three titles; with the All Blacks, and in his systems and structures that will be passed on to his replacement. As a resource, he is undoubtedly one of the best assets New Zealand rugby has ever fostered; a key part of the most successful era in history. 

And he would also be the first to acknowledge he could not have done it all without Trish. 

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback