Former All Blacks centre Conrad Smith has moved into coaching, just seven weeks after putting his last game of professional rugby behind him.
After 52 games for Pau, Smith is now a coach the the French club.
Smith also played 94 Tests for the All Blacks, 126 games for the Hurricanes and 43 for Wellington.
Fellow former All Blacks Colin Slade, Tom Taylor, Frank Halai, Jamie Mackintosh and Benson Stanley are all in the Pau squad.
Smith told French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique discussions with players and coaches in New Zealand and Europe led him to take up a position as a defence coach.
“I have been thinking about what we can change, what other teams are doing well, what we can imitate, or adapt, to suit us,” he said.
“In rugby there is never only one way to do things. A defensive system may suit one team but not another and because of that it is important to observe, understand and adapt.”
Smith said, depsite his vast playing experience, he still had a lot to learn about the game.
“During my career I’ve always played the same position, without really being interested in the forwards but now I have to take account of all the parameters,” explained the 36-year-old.
“I have to accept the fact that I still don’t know a lot about rugby and that I will compensate for this by talking with players and coaches. Of course, I also hope that my playing experience will be a help, but I know perfectly well that good players do not necessarily become good coaches.”
After three seasons at Pau, Smith also confirmed he would be using his French to get the message across.
“I want to coach in French. It is necessary to do that. It is important to me to speak the local language. We are a French club and I want to speak French.”
Club coach, and former All Black, Simon Mannix said they were excited about Smith joining a coaching team which also includes 2007 World Cup team-mate Carl Hayman.
“His strictness and his knowledge of the game would help our young players,” Mannix said.
“For the past three years, he has been very involved in the club’s progression. He will be missed on the field because he is irreplaceable but he will bring us a lot technically. I’m looking forward to having him on our staff and I am sure he will develop into a great coach.”