Wayne Smith is considering whether to become part of England's quest to win the 2015 World Cup after meeting the host nation's head coach, Stuart Lancaster, in South Africa last Friday.
Smith, who was part of the All Blacks' World Cup-winning management team last year and is regarded as one of the leading attack coaches in the game, is working with the Waikato-based Chiefs and would not be available to join England until the end of September.
Smith was linked with England when the former South Africa coach Nick Mallett was the favourite to succeed Martin Johnson but Lancaster, when appointed on the back of a strong showing in the Six Nations, wanted Andy Farrell to remain in charge of the backs.
Farrell decided this month to remain with Saracens, leaving England with little time to fill the vacancy ahead of the summer tour to South Africa. Senior figures at the Rugby Football Union believe the experienced Smith would be the ideal coach to sharpen England's attack. He has knowledge of rugby in the country after spending three seasons with Northampton from 2001.
The RFU will not make an appointment without Lancaster's approval and the head coach flew to South Africa to talk to Smith, who was in Cape Town ahead of the Super 15 match between the Stormers and the Chiefs. The pair reportedly had a productive meeting and Smith, now back in New Zealand, has to decide whether he is prepared to move to England for three years until the end of the next World Cup. He has said that he wants, at some stage, to return to international rugby but not as a head coach.
Smith and Lancaster agree on the need for England's attacking game to improve. When Lancaster addressed the RFU's council in February, in his then capacity of interim head coach, he said there were three areas where he was looking for development: set-piece delivery, changing habits, and width and depth in attack.
England delivered on the first two but only against France did they have a cutting edge in attack. Lancaster told council members that he wanted to establish a standard of performance so that everyone involved in the English game would see the direction the team were going in and willingly follow.
England are likely to have an interim attack coach in South Africa but the RFU would like to have sorted out the long‑term position by the time the squad flies out in June. Lancaster is expected to meet London Irish's Mike Catt this week.
The Wales wing Alex Cuthbert will this week decide whether to remain with Cardiff Blues or join the exodus to France. The 22-year old, who has been on a development contract this season, has been offered a six-figure deal by the region but he is being chased by Toulon and Racing Metro.
Cuthbert, who broke into the Wales team after the World Cup, has been on a contract worth little more than £20,000 a year. The Blues, who have released 12 players because of financial problems, have offered him five times that, but the two free-spending French clubs are prepared to pay the wing, who scored three tries in the Six Nations, more.
The Wales prop Paul James is reported to be joining Bath from Ospreys. He would be the second Wales prop in the Premiership with Craig Mitchell at Exeter, while his fellow national squad front rowers, Gethin Jenkins and Huw Bennett, will be in France next season.
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