Smith backs-out but Catt leaps at England coaching role

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FORMER All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith has turned down the chance to join Stuart Lancaster’s coaching team but Mike Catt will be part of England’s set-up during the tour of South Africa next month.

Catt is set to leave London Irish after their final Aviva Premiership match with Gloucester on Saturday and he will work with England until the end of June.

Smith, however, has pulled the plug on a move to England and elected to stay with New Zealand Super 15 side Waikato Chiefs, saying: “It was an incredibly difficult decision but ultimately I have decided to stay in New Zealand, mainly for personal reasons.

“I took the job with the Chiefs so I could move nearer to elderly parents. I have travelled the globe with rugby for the last 15 years and I want to fulfil my commitment to be closer to them.

“I do also feel some loyalty to the Chiefs and the job that I have with them and leaving after eight months when I have a year left on my contract did not feel right.”

Smith added: “I was very impressed with Stuart [Lancaster] when I met him.

“He is an outstanding individual and will be a great plus for England rugby and anyone who works in his team will be very fortunate.

“England have some fantastic young players and the opportunity to work with them ahead of the 2015 World Cup was very appealing.”

Former Wakefield RFC player and Kettlethorpe High School PE teacher Lancaster said: “Wayne rang me this morning and I fully respect his decision which, as he says, was a difficult one.

“All my energy will now go into preparing for an exciting tour to South Africa and I will reassess the coaching team post-tour prior to the start of the QBE Internationals.”

Lancaster is delighted with Catt’s involvement in the South Africa tour. He said: “Mike has played at the top level and is highly respected.

“He is experienced in playing in South Africa and this will be invaluable as we prepare for this challenging and exciting tour.”

Catt said: “I was very impressed with England during the Six Nations, not just the way they played but the culture that is developing, and hopefully I can complement what Stuart and Graham [Rowntree] are doing.”

Read Friday’s Wakefield Express for more of the latest sports news.