Legendary Lions prop Tom Smith has taken his first steps into full-time coaching.
One of the unexpected heroes of the 1997 Lions tour to South Africa, Smith played a total of six Tests for Britain and Ireland’s elite, winning two Tests against the Springboks and one against the Wallabies four years later.
Smith retired from the playing side of the sport at the end of last season but has today been named the new forwards coach of Edinburgh.
The 37-year-old was capped 61 times by Scotland between 1997 and 2005 and has been involved with Northampton Saints since returning from Australia with the Lions in 2001.
"People will be well aware of Tom’s pedigree as a world-class prop, who, at the age of 37, was still playing regularly last season in the top flight of English rugby," said new Edinburgh head coach Rob Moffat, who has just taken over from former Lions coach Andy Robinson at the Scottish capital outfit.
"What they may be less familiar with is that Tom has been involved in a coaching capacity, both as a scrummaging specialist and a mentor for young players at Northampton Saints for the last three years, having embarked on formal coaching qualifications with a view to pursuing a career in coaching when he retired from playing.
"I believe it’s a real coup to have secured Tom’s services. He has performed at the very top level of the game for 12 years and the thirst for knowledge among the players in our squad will be well served by Tom’s rich experience."
Smith himself is looking forward to the move back to the north of the border and has already set his sights on helping establish his new side as one of the leading lights in Celtic and European rugby.
"I’m delighted to be returning to Scotland and really looking forward to working with Rob Moffat and the rest of the team at Edinburgh," explained Smith.
"The talent in the squad is obvious and my focus will be to assist the players as they strive to improve on last season’s runners-up position in the Magners League and to qualify for the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup."