World Cup winning-coach Wayne Smith said Munster is just one of a long list of teams his name seemed to be linked with, but admitted he would be tempted by another overseas job.
Smith was part of the All Blacks brains-trust that brought the Webb Ellis trophy back to New Zealand after a 24 year wait. He has been linked with several roles since, including England, but has yet to commit himself to anything beyond 2012.
When asked if he had been in contact with Munster, Smith was unequivocal. “No. No, I haven’t had any talks with them and your name tends to get linked with every job going around the world.”
However, Smith did leave open the possibility that he could be tempted by such a high-profile role.
“I’ve got a management group based in London and they get approached by all sorts of clubs, but for the moment I’m really inspired by this (Waikato) Chiefs campaign and it’s a good place to be at the moment.”
The 54-year-old is on a two-year contract with the Super 15 side, but has an option to leave after a year if another opportunity arises. It was always assumed Smith was waiting for another international job — he and Nick Mallett were touted as likely candidates to take over England before their Six Nations success and his name has also been mentioned as a foil to head-coach elect Stuart Lancaster — but he has experience of European club rugby with Northampton Saints and enjoyed his time in that theatre immensely.
The former All Black out-half has taken a step down this year to be an assistant coach with the Chiefs in the Super 15.
His presence convinced superstar inside centre Sonny Bill Williams to join that franchise rather than his hometown Blues and already the results would suggest Smith has made a difference.
“I’m really enjoying it,” Smith said. “I’ve got a lot of roots in the area and there was a real opportunity to come here and help out. That was the key thing.”
Mired in mediocrity for the past two years, the Chiefs started the year with a loss but have since won three in-a-row, including upsets against past tournament winners, the Blues, Crusaders and Brumbies.
Smith is a noted rugby thinker. He has been known to drive players and colleagues to distraction with his theories, but it is rooted in a deep love of the game.
Former All Black halfback Justin Marshall rated Smith the best coach he had played under.
“I have been coached by over a dozen coaches including the world’s best, Laurie Mains, John Hart, Robbie Deans, Steve Hansen, Graham Henry, Eddie Jones, Jake White but none of these great men has had the rugby knowledge of Smith.”
“I rate him as the world’s best at researching, creating opportunities and general knowledge of the game.”
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