Former All Black Conrad Smith has officially joined the team at International Rugby Players.
Smith, who lives in France after retiring in May with Top 14 side Pau, will immediately get to work on a global agent accreditation scheme to help avoid rogue agents exploiting players. He will also assist the organisation on areas like player load, concussion and getting better conditions for tier two players across the world.
So how is the two-time Rugby World Cup winner feeling about joining the Dublin-based team?
“I’m very excited! I’m obviously at a new stage in my life where I’m moving from a playing career to something different.
“(The players association) is something I thought about a lot and was involved with when I was playing, so now is a chance to take it a bit more seriously and spend a bit more time on it. It’s something I’m really looking forward to. “
Smith will blend the role in with being part of the coaching ticket at Pau.
?It's OFFICIAL: ?
We're delighted to announce that former All Black CONRAD SMITH has joined the team at International Rugby Players!
Conrad will work on our agent accreditation scheme but also on legal areas, player load and other issues affecting the game ? pic.twitter.com/JR0DLKVVuy
— InternationalRugbyPlayers (@IntRugbyPlayers) July 26, 2018
“I’m still coaching with my club but with the time I have, I’m keen to be involved in a few projects that International Rugby Players are running. One of those is around Agent accreditation or registration. It’s something I was involved with back in New Zealand (with the NZRPA) and now it’s something we want to do internationally so that we can protect players and avoid some of the problems that have come up in other sports.
“I’ll also be involved in other big issues, such as Player workload, Concussion which is a big issue in all contact sports and we’re also keen to see better conditions for tier two countries, to help them and help the game.”
With all that the former Hurricane centre could have done after hanging up the boots last season, why did he want to get involved with the global Players group?
“I guess I played rugby for a long time, I love the game and it’s given me a lot,” he mused.
“But sport, moving forward, needs good representation from the players. When you’re looking after player interests, ultimately it helps the game move forward.
“Rugby has benefited from good administration in the past but it also needs a strong player voice and that has to continue for the good of the game. To be involved in that is something I feel good about and it’s good for the game.”
With the recent retirement of British and Irish and Wales captain Sam Warburton, player workload and burnout is high on the agenda of both the Players and the game in general.
“Player load is a big issue but is one that, by listening to what players are saying, ultimately that’s the way to get to an outcome that will suit everyone. It won’t be easy; there’s a lot of interests involved that we’ll have to appease and align.
“I think a player voice is massively important; if you can get the players onside and have World Rugby listening then we can get to a good solution.”
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