Wakefield Wildcats: Wakefield pull off ‘coaching coup’ with Aussie Smith

Brian Smith.
Brian Smith.
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BRIAN SMITH’S appointment as coach has been described as a “massive coup” for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats by club chairman Michael Carter.

Smith will arrived in this country on Thursday or Friday, before taking charge a week today. He will be an observer at Sunday’s home game against Leeds Rhinos, when caretaker boss Stuart Dickens will coach the team for the third and final time.

Smith, 61, played for St George and South Sydney in his native Australia, before coaching Illawarra Steelers. He had stints with Hull (1988-90) and Bradford Bulls (1996-97) either side of a spell as St George boss. After returning to the NRL, he coached Parramatta Eels from 1997-2006, then Newcastle Knights and Sydney Roosters, who he left in 2012.

The brother of Warrington Wolves’ Tony Smith, he was Australia’s coach of the year in 2010 and has guided teams to four NRL Grand Finals.

“I’m very happy,” Carter said of the appointment. “He is massively experienced in the world of rugby. I think it’s a massive coup for us as a club that someone of Brian’s stature in the game actually applied for the job.”

The appointment is initially until the end of the season, but Carter said further discussions will be held if Wildcats survive in First Utility Super League.

They are currently bottom of the table and Carter said Smith’s remit is simple, “keep us up”.

Carter admitted: “That’s the whole focus. I have said to Brian, the backroom staff are in place – and he’s happy to work with them – and I’ve told him there could be a bit of maneuverability in terms of the squad. There may be an opportunity for players to come in and now Lopini (Paea) has left that frees up a bit of space for us as well, so if we can find the right calibre of player, Brian can bring him in.”

Carter revealed Smith contacted the club – and was put in touch by former boss James Webster, who resigned two weeks ago.

“Brian didn’t have my number,” Carter said. “Brian texted James asking for my number and gave him a message for James to pass on to me. That just shows the kind of guy James is.”

Carter added: “He passed the message on, I contacted Brian, we had a couple of really good chats and over the past six days we’ve been trying to get everything in place in terms of visa papers and that sort of thing.

“Subject to everything being passed (this week), he should be with us Thursday or Friday.”