Is Roosters coach Brian Smith England’s secret weapon?

Sydney Roosters coach Brian Smith is hoping to show that his coaching skills can transcend to the international stage, as he lends a hand to an England side itching for success.

The 56-year-old former Hull, Bradford, Eels and Knights coach, who this year took the Roosters to the grand final was recruited by English coach Steve McNamara to be England’s performance adviser throughout the Four Nations.

“I’ve been able to give Steve a bit of specific knowledge about almost every player in the other teams,” Smith said.

“I’ve told him about the way referees tend to rule on various situations, trends in the game and little odds and ends about individual players, about what makes them good.”

Smith, who is the older brother of former Warrington coach Tony Smith, had his first taste as England’s adviser in the nations 18-18 all draw with NZ Maori side. A result which he admits shows that the England team has some improving to do before their clash with NZ.

“It was pretty evident that we had guys on different pages,” he said.

“We were going pretty well for a while but we lost it under pressure and I think that was good for the group to say ‘oops, we need to fix this up’.

“I would say the guys are really well coached but they use different systems, particularly around the ruck defence and tackle technique and adjustments with line speed.

“We’ve been able to work on that this week.”

Smith says he has been impressed with the calibre of player in the 24-man England squad.

“I was a little taken aback to begin with as to how ego-less this group is and how responsive they are to each other and to Steve and the rest of the staff,” he said.

“I thought I might have had a few things to help in the background but there’s been nothing there. They’re committed and hopefully they’re coordinated.”

Smith can’t wait to get the chance to see  Sam Burgess and Gareth Ellis, both of whom have excelled in the NRL, playing for England.

Smith has also welcomed the decision to make young boom prop James Graham the new England captain.

“I can understand why Steve has selected James as captain,” he said. “He’s a businessman with footy.

“I like the way, in almost every meeting he’s had … from my point of view at least, have been right on the money.

“He’s got leadership skills and is quite well spoken.

“Ellis and Burgess are ready to burst out this weekend with big games.

“Having said that, I think New Zealand have got a fantastic chance of winning this year.

“They’ve got an excellent crew of players and they have been under Stephen Kearney for three or four years. It’s been about systems and organisation and I think they’ve got it down pretty well.

“It’s going to be a big challenge on Saturday night.”

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