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Rugby-All Blacks mentor Smith rallies to Black Ferns cause ahead of World Cup – Metro US

Rugby-All Blacks mentor Smith rallies to Black Ferns cause ahead of World Cup

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(Reuters) – Former All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith has signed up to help his country’s Black Ferns women’s side prepare for the World Cup on home soil this year, New Zealand Rugby said on Monday.

One of the most highly regarded coaches in the game, Smith was part of the All Blacks set-up for 16 years, including for the 2011 and 2015 men’s World Cup triumphs, before retiring in 2017.

Smith will act as technical coach for the Black Ferns, who have a winning record not far behind that of the All Blacks and have won five of the seven women’s World Cups they have taken part in.

Their hopes of retaining the title they won in Ireland in 2017 suffered a setback, however, after they suffered four heavy losses in tests against England and France in November last year.

Smith revealed that he had been inspired to come out of retirement by a commitment he made to his late friend Laurie O’Reilly, a women’s rugby trailblazer and the first coach of the Black Ferns.

“I indicated to him before he passed away that I would help the women’s rugby in whatever way I could, and now I get the chance,” Smith said in a statement. “The coaching group is all on the same page around the type of game we need to play to win the World Cup.

“There is a lot of work to be done to get there but it is going to be exhilarating.”

The ninth women’s World Cup, which was put back by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, takes place in New Zealand from Oct. 8 to Nov. 12.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ed Osmond)

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