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IRFU lay the groundwork for pay row with players

Brendan Fanning



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Form New Zealand start Conrad Smith is on the coaching staff at Pau in the south of France. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Form New Zealand start Conrad Smith is on the coaching staff at Pau in the south of France. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Getty Images

Form New Zealand start Conrad Smith is on the coaching staff at Pau in the south of France. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

A couple of days ago we caught up with a man who in this parish rates as one of the greats of the game. We accept that not many others might see it that way, but for us Conrad Smith was exceptional.

His highlights reel doesn't feature too many 90-metre tries. He wasn't Lomu-esque when it came to skittling defenders en route to the line. But there was nothing he couldn't turn his hand to, and unlike most others he could do everything pretty well. If he ever had a shocker of a game then he has buried it on Betamax in a dense forest somewhere on New Zealand's North Island.

The coincidence of rugby's restart this weekend - featuring his old pals in the Wellington Hurricanes this morning - and the tumultuous state of the game seemed like reason enough to give him a shout. Since finishing his playing career with Pau in the south of France he has continued there on the coaching staff, and taken up a lead role for International Rugby Players, the association that represents professional players worldwide.