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Scott Robertson hailed for appointing New Zealand’s ‘great rugby thinker’
2024/04/25

Ex-England fly-half and outspoken pundit Stuart Barnes believes that Scott Robertson has pulled off a significant coup by making Wayne Smith part of his coaching staff.

Robertson confirmed his backroom team ahead of the 2024 Test season with Smith being named a performance coach for the All Blacks.

The 66-year-old is a three-time Rugby World Cup winner – two with the men in 2011 and 2015 and one with the women in 2022.

He will now look to play his part over the next four-year cycle as build towards the men’s 2027 World Cup.

Praise and frustration

Barnes is a huge fan of Smith and believes that he would have been the ideal appointment for .

Instead, he has joined , who has put together a talented group of coaches that will guide the All Blacks on their exciting new journey.

“His philosophy is to challenge the orthodoxies and encourage players and coaches to think outside the box,” Barnes wrote in his Sunday Times column.

“The throwaway comment that rugby union is a simple game is one that Smith disagrees with.

“‘There are so many complexities,’ he once said. ‘There are so many different ways you can play it.’

“Every step a rugby player runs should have its reason: to pull an opponent out of position, to create space for a support runner. In theory, this is the mental challenge that the game poses, but in practice, this is, too often, not the case.

“Defenders dominate, and statistics show that the best way to counter this is by kicking the ball back and asking the other team to play from deep defensive positions.

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