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Lynagh backs Johnson’s appointment of Exile Smith

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Martin Johnson’s appointment of Brian Smith from London Irish shows that he is not running an England team controlled by the “Leicester Mafia”.


Johnson the former Leicester captain has named ex-Tigers John Wells and Graham Rowntree part of his management team and the arrival of Smith, who has quit as London Irish director of rugby, is a necessary statement of intent, says Michael Lynagh.


Lynagh, a former World Cup winner with Australia started his career alongside Smith in the Queensland team when the dual Wallaby and Ireland international was a scrum-half.


Smith went on to stand in at Test level for Lynagh when the fly-half was injured before he opted to become Irish during his time at Oxford University.


Now, Lynagh, in his role as a television pundit, will sit in judgment of his former team-mate during England’s November clashes against the Pacific Island Barbarians, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.


“Martin Johnson has to be careful in his new role and his regime cannot be seen as some kind of Leicester Mafia.”


“That is why choosing Brian Smith is so important and he’s not the first foreigner to help England out. John Mitchell, of New Zealand, was part of Clive Woodward’s management team.” Lynagh told This is London.


“Brian doesn’t have a huge amount of baggage that he is bringing to the role and his track record is good, particularly with London Irish, who play attractive rugby with the ball in hand.”


Martin Johnson identified Smith almost from the start but the Exiles refused at first to release him from his contract. It is believed that a substantial six-figure compensation deal had to be put in place before London Irish allowed him to depart.


Smith had more than a year of his contract still to run with the Exiles, who will now look to forwards coach Toby Booth, former prop Neil Hatley and ex-England centre Mike Catt to steady the ship.


In the early days of Johnson’s appointment Catt was touted as a possible England back’s coach but Lynagh believes the choice of Smith was logical and added, “Martin Johnson doesn’t have any coaching experience and to have appointed Catty would have meant two key men in the team were new to the coaching scene.


“It would have been a massive gamble.


“Brian is someone who has been the director of rugby at a leading club and that experience will be vital.”


England Management : Team manager Martin Johnson


Specialist coaches : Brian Smith (attack), John Wells (forwards), Mike Ford (defence), Jon Callard (kicking), Graham Rowntree (forwards asst).

 

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