Brian Smith (rugby league, born 1954)

Last updated

Brian Smith
Personal information
Full nameBrian Theo Smith
Born (1954-03-14) 14 March 1954 (age 67)
Maclean, New South Wales, Australia
Playing information
Height172 cm (5 ft 8 in)
Weight76 kg (12 st 0 lb)
Position Halfback
1974 St. George Dragons 141003
1975–79 South Sydney 170000
Coaching information
198487 Illawarra Steelers 963206433
198890 Hull F.C. 503201864
199195 St. George Dragons 1186934658
199596 Bradford Bulls 28210775
199706 Parramatta Eels 24413879957
200709 Newcastle Knights 482102744
201012 Sydney Roosters 763514046
201516 Wakefield Trinity 20601430
200103 NSW Country 310233
2013 United States 0000
2017 Thailand 10010
Source: [1] [2]

Brian Smith (born 14 March 1954) is an Australian rugby league coach and former player. He was also the Football Manager for the New Zealand Warriors.


Smith played for St. George 1973-74 and South Sydney Rabbitohs (1975-1976 and 1979), appearing in a total of 31 first grade games. However, Smith is best known as a coach, having been at the helm of Illawarra Steelers, where he took over for the 1984 season, [3] before moving to Hull FC, St. George Dragons, Bradford Bulls, Parramatta Eels, the Newcastle Knights and, most recently, at the Sydney Roosters and the NSW Country side. Although Smith had a successful career in Australia, he fell short of becoming a premiership winning coach being on the losing end of all four grand finals he coached in (1992 and 1993 with St George, 2001 with Parramatta and 2010 with Eastern Suburbs.) [4]

He is the older brother of former Great Britain coach Tony Smith and is father of Keegan Smith, the strength and power coach at the Roosters, [5] and Rohan Smith, a former coach of Tonga and assistant coach at Auckland Warriors, London Broncos, Newcastle Knights, Sydney Roosters and Gold Coast Titans. [6] [7]

Playing career

In the New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership, Smith played 14 first grade games for St. George in 1974, and 17 games for the South Sydney Rabbitohs between 1975 and 1979, appearing in a total of 31 first grade games.

Coaching career


Smith began coaching in 1978, coaching the Newtown under 23s team. He then joined South Sydney in 1980, also as under-23's coach. He stayed there until the end of 1982 coaching the reserve grade team in that season.

Illawarra Steelers

Smith began coaching first grade rugby league in the NSWRL competition in 1984, where he became coach of the Illawarra Steelers, where he remained until the end of 1987 season. While coaching Illawarra in 1986, Smith proposed using two referees. [8] This did eventuate in 2009.

Hull FC

From 1988 until 1990, Smith was coach of Hull F.C. in England's Championship., [9] In season 1988-89 Hull progressed to the Premiership Final at Old Trafford ultimately losing to Widnes. Hull led the competition when Smith left in January 1991 and went on to win the Premiership Final in May.

St. George

Smith returned to Australia to coach St. George for the 1991 season. He took the club to consecutive Grand Finals in 1992 (in which his younger brother Tony played from the Dragons' interchange bench) and 1993, losing both to Wayne Bennett's Brisbane Broncos. Smith would remain at St George until 1995.

Bradford Bulls

Smith returned to England for two seasons 1995 and 1996 to coach the Bradford Bulls to the 1996 Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London in front of 78,550 fans. For Smith it would be another final loss as Bradford went down to St. Helens 32-40. Bradford Bulls would go on to win major trophies across the next decade including Challenge Cups, Grand Final Premierships and World Club Challenge Finals.

Parramatta Eels

Returning to Australia, from 1997 until mid-2006, Smith coached the Parramatta Eels. He took them to the 2001 NRL Grand Final in what was the Eels first Grand Final since their 4-2 win over Canterbury-Bankstown in 1986. Facing Parramatta would be the Andrew Johns led Newcastle Knights. Parramatta, minor premiers in 2001, were raging hot favorites to win the Grand Final but four converted and unanswered tries to Newcastle in the first 24 minutes of the game was too big a lead for Parramatta to overcome.

Newcastle would go on to hand Smith his third Grand Final loss with a 30-24 win in front of 90,414 at Stadium Australia. Smith became the longest-serving coach for the Parramatta Eels before he resigned as coach on 15 May 2006, with assistant coach Jason Taylor taking over as caretaker coach for the remainder of the season. During this period Parramatta won eight club championships and made seven appearances in the playoff series. Smith also won the Dally M coach of the year in 1991.

Bradford Bulls (return)

Smith had a short spell with his former club Bradford in an advisory role during the summer of 2006.

Newcastle Knights

In 2007, Smith took up coaching duties with the Newcastle Knights. In July 2009, he signed a deal for the 2010 with the Sydney Roosters and obtained a release from the Knights. [10] On 15 August 2009 Smith effectively quit the Newcastle club, with understudy Rick Stone to act as caretaker coach for the remainder of the season.

Sydney Roosters

For the 2010 NRL season Smith took over as Roosters coach from Brad Fittler who had been sacked the previous year. At the 2010 Dally M Awards Smith was named coach of the year. The Roosters reached the 2010 NRL Grand Final but were defeated by Wayne Bennett's St. George Illawarra Dragons.

Smith was sacked by the club with a year still remaining on his contract at the end of the 2012 NRL season, after the Roosters finished in 13th place with an 8-15-1 record. [11]


Smith also worked as an assistant coach for Steve McNamara for the English team in their 2010 Four Nations campaign.

United States

In 2013 he was briefly the head coach of the USA. [12] [13]

Wakefield Trinity

On 31 May 2015 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats announced on Sky Sports coverage of the Magic Weekend ahead of their game versus Castleford Tigers that Smith had agreed to take up the position of head coach. Former coach James Webster put Smith in touch with the club via text message. [14] He resigned from Wakefield on 8 March 2016. [15]


In 2015, Smith became a consultant at the Serbian Rugby League and assisted the Serbian national team in their 2016 Qualifiers in a bid to qualify for their first ever Rugby League World Cup. [16]


On 8 Feb 2017 he coached a Thailand team in a 10-44 defeat to Hungary staged at Endeavour Sports High School, Sydney.


Brian Smith – coaching results by season
TeamYearGamesWinsDrawsLossesWin %Finals
ILL 1984 241201250%Finished 8th (out of 13)
ILL 1985 24501921%Finished 13th (out of 13)
ILL 1986 24701729%Finished 13th (out of 13)
ILL 1987 24801633%Finished 11th (out of 13)
StG 1991 22113857%Finished 9th (out of 16)
StG 1992 26170965%Lost 1992 NSWRL Grand Final against Brisbane Broncos 8—28
StG 1993 25190676%Lost 1993 NSWRL Grand Final against Brisbane Broncos 6—14
StG 1994 22901341%Finished 11th (out of 16)
StG 1995 231301057%Lost 1995 ARL Elimination Final against Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 8—12
PAR 1997 24141960%Lost 1997 ARL Minor Semi Final against North Sydney Bears 14—24
PAR 1998 27191772%Lost 1998 NRL Preliminary Final against Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20—32
PAR 1999 26180869%Lost 1999 NRL Preliminary Final against Melbourne Storm 18—26
PAR 2000 291611257%Lost 2000 NRL Preliminary Final against Brisbane Broncos 10—16
PAR 2001 29222579%Lost 2001 NRL Grand Final against Newcastle Knights 24—30
PAR 2002 251021344%Lost 2002 NRL Qualifying Final against Brisbane Broncos 14—24
PAR 2003 241101346%Finished 9th (out of 15)
PAR 2004 24901538%Finished 12th (out of 15)
PAR 2005 26170965%Lost 2005 NRL Preliminary Final against North Queensland Cowboys 0—29
PAR 2006 251201348%Lost 2006 NRL Qualifying Final against Melbourne Storm 6—12
NEW 2007 24901538%Finished 15th (out of 16)
NEW 2008 241201250%Finished 9th (out of 16)
NEW 2009 201001050%Released From Contract
SYD 2010 281701161%Lost 2010 NRL Grand Final against St. George Illawarra Dragons 8—32
SYD 2011 241001442%Finished 11th (out of 16)
SYD 2012 24811535%Finished 13th (out of 16)

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  1. Rugby League Project
  2. Brian Smith
  3. Lester, Gary, ed. (1984). Rugby League: Action '85. Sydney: Fairfax Publishing. p. 30. ISBN   0-909558-83-3.
  5. Danny Weidler. "Roosters have deal of a lifetime for Sonny Bill if he wants to stay". WA Today.
  6. "Tonga boast star power for Kiwis Test". TVNZ. 8 October 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  7. "Trent Robinson undecided on future at Knights". The Herald. 20 August 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  8. MacDonald, John (9 October 1986). "The season of change, upsets and challenges". The Sydney Morning Herald . Fairfax Media. p. 36. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
  9. "Coaches and Captains". 31 December 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  10. Brian Smith signed to save Roosters Archived 25 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine Brisbane Times, 19 July 2009
  11. Roosters dump Smith, 5 September 2012
  12. "News Article not available". NRL - The official site of the National Rugby League - Archived from the original on 31 October 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  13. " - Brian Smith quits as USA coach".
  14. "Smith takes charge of Wakefield". 31 May 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  15. "Brian Smith resigns as head coach". BBC. 8 March 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  16. "Brian Smith appointed consultant for Serbian Rugby League". RUGBYLEAGUEPLANET. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Allan Fitzgibbon
Illawarra colours.svg
Illawarra Steelers

Succeeded by
Terry Fearnley
Preceded by
Tony Dean
Keith Hepworth
Hull FC

Succeeded by
Noel Cleal
Preceded by
Craig Young
St. George colours.svg
St. George Dragons

Succeeded by
David Waite
Preceded by
Peter Fox
Bradford Bulls

Succeeded by
Matthew Elliott
Preceded by
Ron Hilditch
Parramatta colours.svg
Parramatta Eels

Succeeded by
Jason Taylor
Preceded by
Michael Hagan
Newcastle colours.svg
Newcastle Knights

Succeeded by
Rick Stone
Preceded by
Brad Fittler
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg
Sydney Roosters

Succeeded by
Trent Robinson
Preceded by
Ben Kelly
Flag of the United States.svg
United States

Succeeded by
Terry Matterson
Preceded by
James Webster
Wakefield Trinity

Succeeded by
Chris Chester