Former Black Ferns and All Blacks coach Wayne Smith thought retirement beckoned, so he's surprised and chuffed to be taking up a new role with New Zealand Rugby.
Smith's been appointed as a performance coach to the Black Ferns and All Blacks - the new role including the mentoring and supporting of the respective head coaches.
Smith, 66, stepped down as Black Ferns head coach last year after guiding them to World Cup success.
"I love the game. I love the black jersey, whether its the Black Ferns, the All Blacks, Maori All Blacks it doesn't make any difference to me.
"I've been involved with New Zealand Rugby since probably '79 as either a player, or a coach, or a mentor or a CEO at Hawkes Bay, I've had a huge involvement so its been my life and sounds like its going to continue for a bit longer."
Smith will continue to challenge norms and encourage coaches and players to think outside the box.
"It's important to consider different perspectives and solutions as coaches. As we head into a new era for the game, I am a great believer in the importance of diversity, of relationships and of people. As a coach I've been very fortunate to have been exposed to that through my career".
He's already working with new coach Allan Bunting and will begin with the All Blacks when Scott Robertson takes over the reins after the World Cup.
Smith is yet to flesh out exactly what the new role will involve but believes the different perspective he offers is the biggest skill he brings to his new role in New Zealand Rugby.
"I prefer the face to face stuff personally. Zoom is a handy tool but you can't see body language and I find it hard sometimes to get the point through so there will be a few visits.
"I have been to a couple of camps with Bunts and the Black Ferns already this year and I just loved that whole (World Cup) adventure last year so it's been pretty exciting to be back in there and having a look at what's going on."
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said the new role would continue a legacy of innovation and excellence.
"Smithy's input and insights on the shape of the game and trends in the game internationally will be of enormous benefit to coaches and players, but more than that, his integrity, honesty, passion for the jersey and care for the legacy of the black jersey are invaluable.
"We are very fortunate to have someone of his calibre in our game and involved with our two top national teams, the Black Ferns and the All Blacks. I know he is excited and energised by the challenge ahead and I'm confident our players, fans and stakeholders will feel the same way."
2023: Black Ferns and All Blacks Performance Coach (commencing November 2023)
2022: Black Ferns Head Coach (Rugby World Cup winners)
2018: Kobelco Steelers Director of Coaching (Back-to-back Top League Japanese championships)
2015-2017: All Blacks Assistant Coach
2012-2014: Chiefs Assistant Coach
2012: Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours, he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby
2004-2011: All Blacks (Assistant Coach)
2001-2004: Northampton Saints Coach (England)
2000-2001: All Blacks Head Coach
1997-1999: Crusaders Head Coach (back-to-back Super Rugby titles 1998-1999)