ENGLAND are set to revert to a full-time head coach following the decision of Tony Smith to step down from the role.
Former Huddersfield Giants's coach Smith quit in the wake of England’s 46-16 defeat by Australia in Saturday’s Gillette Four Nations final for family reasons and to concentrate on his club role with Warrington.
The 42-year-old Australian made the decision not to seek a new contract, which runs out this month, before the start of the tournament but will help the Rugby Football League unearth his successor.
The search for a new coach to lead England into the 2013 World Cup began immediately when a four-man panel, chaired by RFL chief executive Nigel Wood, was set up to come up with a shortlist of candidates for approval by the RFL board of directors.
It is likely an appointment will be made in the new year, well ahead of the mid-season international against France and in plenty of time to give the new man the chance to prepare for the 2010 Four Nations series in the southern hemisphere starting in October.
The other members of the panel are former Wigan and Great Britain centre Barrie Jon Mather, who joined the League as head of player development this summer, head of human performance Clive Brewer and head of England’s elite training squad Paddy Mortimer.
The panel will call on other experts, including Smith, who is keen to be involved in the process.
"I’ve got a great relationship with the League and they’ve said they’d like me involved in the recruitment," he said.
"I’m sure there are plenty of options but we’ve got to see who’s available and see who’s prepared to do the job – and whether the RFL are looking for a full-time or a part-time head coach."
Smith quit his job with Leeds to go full-time with the League in 2007 but reverted to a part-time role when he joined Warrington in March after missing the weekly hands-on coaching at club level.
RFL chairman Richard Lewis told Sky Sports News: "We’ll almost definitely make it a full-time appointment. It’s difficult to be a club coach and an international coach.
"We’d look at the issues involved. We have to look at each individual’s circumstances.
"The intention is to go with a full-time coach this time and what their long-term plans are and how they see the role will be part of the interview."
The League may decide to advertise the job to test interest in Australia but, if they look within Super League for a successor, John Kear (Wakefield), Steve McNamara (Bradford) and Justin Morgan (Hull KR) are the obvious candidates, although they all have club commitments.
McNamara has been Smith’s assistant for the last three years while Kear, at 55 the oldest coach in Super League, was in charge of England for the 2000 World Cup when they lost heavily to New Zealand in the semi-finals.
As well as running the national team, the new coach will oversee the England Under 20s and work with the elite squad to develop a four-year plan to produce 30 world-class players for the next World Cup.
Smith enjoyed 10 wins in his 16 games in charge, the highlight of which was a 3-0 Test series whitewash of New Zealand in 2007, but he lost the ones that mattered most – last November’s World Cup semi-final to the Kiwis and the Four Nations final.
However, he believes he leaves a legacy, pointing to the presence in Saturday’s final of 20-year-olds Sam Burgess, Sam Tomkins and Kyle Eastmond, as well as teenagers Tom Briscoe and Richie Myler earlier in the tournament, as evidence that progress is being made towards the 2013 World Cup.
"I gave it a shot of trying to get us further up the ladder in terms of the world rankings," he said.
"I think we are making some major inroads behind the scenes.
"We’ve brought on some young players who gained experience against a world-class team."