Friday June 02, 2023

Wayne Smith to coach New Zealand women following damning review

Smith, known in rugby circles as "the professor" because of his deep knowledge of the game

April 21, 2022
Wayne Smith. — AFP/file
Wayne Smith. — AFP/file 

WELLINGTON: Former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith was appointed Thursday to head a new set-up for the New Zealand women's team following a damning review into the way the side had been handled.

The review into the team culture found members of the Black Ferns had been subjected to culturally insensitive comments, alleged favouritism and body-shaming from coaches.

It led to the resignation last week of head coach Glenn Moore, less than six months from the Women's World Cup, which will be hosted by defending champions New Zealand.

Smith, known in rugby circles as "the professor" because of his deep knowledge of the game, moves into the role of director of rugby for the women's side.

The 65-year-old will head a new coaching structure through to the World Cup in October-November, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said.

"There is no questioning Wayne's calibre as a coach and what he will bring to this team. We know he is excited to be involved in the Black Ferns and about what they can build this year," Robinson said.

Smith will be assisted by Whitney Hansen, who has had an intern coaching role with the team for the past two years, and Wesley Clarke.

Men's World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry will join in a support role while specialists including former All Blacks forwards coach Mike Cron will also prepare the side.

"Wes has been a long-standing member of the Black Ferns coaching team, his insight and experience is invaluable," said Robinson.

"Whitney is a coach with a big future, she has impressed in her two years within the team so this is a great recognition of her ability and potential."

Moore, who steered the team to the 2017 world crown, was under intense pressure to quit after the review found that Black Ferns players had been badly served by both team management and New Zealand Rugby.

The review was launched after hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate went public with her complaints that she suffered a mental breakdown because of critical comments made by Moore.

She alleged Moore had told her she did not deserve to be on the team and was "picked only to play the guitar".