All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith has spurned lucrative offers from overseas and re-signed with New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2017, according to local media reports.
Smith, widely considered one of the most astute coaches in the game, had signed a one-year contract last year to assist coach Steve Hansen with New Zealand’s World Cup defence.
The 58-year-old former All Blacks halfback had been linked with several European clubs and previously coached Northampton in England for three years.
NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew refused to confirm whether Smith had re-signed with the organisation but said they would make an announcement soon.
“We’re not far away from making some announcements about that,” he told Newstalk ZB radio.
Tew added they were in the process of finalising the contracts for the rest of the All Blacks’ coaching group through until the end of next year, with the British and Irish Lions tour in 2017 looming.
“The key thing now is to lock up the core group now for this year which we’re very close to doing and then we’ll move onto a longer-term view – like we’ve done with the players,” he added.
Hansen, having only signed through until the end of 2017, previously said he was “50-50” as to whether he wanted to continue on until the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Tew said they would take their time in talking to Hansen.
“I’m not sure about a timeline for Steve,” Tew said.
“My experience with him, which is now 15 years old, is we’ll drive a timetable that is best determined by being patient.”
Tew said several players were only contracted through until after the Lions tour, but there was a feeling that many were keen on going through to 2019 to try to win a third successive World Cup, and fourth overall.
“There is an increasing murmuring around the group that we’ve got that they will really want to be around here in 2019 and create another chapter,” he added.