Rugby Union


Axed Rooster says he's right man for Brumbies

Brian Smith admits his opportunities in the NRL may be exhausted, so when the veteran rugby league coach received a phone call from ACT Brumbies mentor Jake White asking him to recommend a new defensive assistant he put forward the obvious candidate - himself.

Smith has coached 601 games of first grade rugby league in Australia with a total of five clubs, beginning with the Illawarra Steelers in 1984 and ending with his sacking by the Sydney Roosters this year.

The coach, often maligned for having never won an NRL premiership, is a self-confessed rookie when it comes to rugby.

''[I've] played one game of rugby at teachers' college and I had no idea what was going on around me, none whatsoever,'' he said. ''But this is where I'm best, not out there on the field, over on the other side of the line and trying to learn and analyse and put some stuff into place to help the guys do a good job.''

Smith's appointment, as a consultant coach two days a week during the Brumbies' pre-season, comes a month after the NRL blocked the Brumbies' attempts to sign Newcastle Knights hooker Danny Buderus as their defensive coach. They also approached former Raiders captain Alan Tongue, who declined.

White, having met Smith earlier this year on a fact-finding mission to the Roosters, phoned the 58-year-old to seek his advice.


''When I phoned him and said, 'Listen, Brian, what do you think? Could you suggest anybody?' he said 'Look, I'm free and I'd love to get involved and I'd love to be part of it','' White said.

''[Smith] would have seen defence coaches come and go. He would have seen certain things that worked in defence that obviously didn't work the next season. If I look back now the first prize is getting a coach.''

Smith was sacked by the Roosters after they finished 13th last season and conceded 626 points - the second-worst defensive record in the NRL. There were also rumours of a rift between Smith and star halfback Mitchell Pearce.

Asked if he could return to the NRL ranks, Smith said: ''I think that's unlikely at this stage.

''For me I'm just happy doing this, it fits with where I am in my life at the moment and, as Jake says, you never know in coaching whether something is going to come up tomorrow or never again.

''I'm not concerned about that, I've had a great stint [in rugby league] there might be some more to come but there might not.''

White said the Brumbies would not stand in the way of other opportunities that may present themselves to Smith, with the appointment to be reassessed after the pre-season.

''I've made it quite clear when we got here that I wanted to improve our collision and try to improve our defence and I always felt that rugby league had something to offer,'' White said.

''It's very difficult in the coaching world to know where [Smith's] going to be in six months' time so we're basically going from month to month.''.