Matt Smith has been appointed Tigers academy head coach for the 2019/20 season.
The current Tigers player, who will retire from playing at the end of the current season, has made 227 appearances for Leicester in a career spanning 14 seasons after graduating from the club’s academy in 2005.
Smith joins the programme on a full-time basis having already assisted throughout the recent Under-18 League winning campaign and academy manager Dave Wilks said: “The job attracted a lot of interest from some really good, experienced coaches. Ultimately, Matt brings a unique value to the role, how knowledgeable he is about the club and what impact he can have helped him to the appointment.
“Matt is also massively hungry to learn more about coaching, as well as player development – which he has an incredible amount of natural instincts about.
“He is extremely empathetic to the programme and young men coming through it, having been through it himself and not only wants others to succeed, but wants to see this club succeed, which is very important.”
Smith will be assisted by Tom Harrison, who also heads up the club’s AASE (Academic and Sporting Excellence) programme, which is delivered in partnership with Brooksby Melton College.
The two organisations combine expertise in vocational sports education, professional rugby and personal development to prepare students for higher education or a career in sport.
"The biggest thing I’ll be looking for is the attitude of these young men and they’ll be under no illusion about what it takes and what is required for them to take the next step at Tigers"Matt Smith
The academy will also be assisted by specialist coaches Boris Stankovich and Brett Deacon, building on the strong relationship between the club’s senior and junior programmes, which Wilks believes is imperative in continuing to promote the pathway for players up through the ranks at Tigers.
“It’s a big positive in terms of the connection between the academy and senior programmes, as well as the pathway for players here at the club,” says Wilks.
“We are always looking to help develop the next England internationals for the club, developing good people, but ultimately providing players to the club’s first team is the goal.”
Tigers head of rugby operations Ged Glynn added: "It is very important to have open dialogue between the first team through the development and to the academy."
"Having coaches that understand what is needed and expected in all these areas is imperative to the continuing development of our players.
"We want coaches who understand where the players are at, what attitude they need, where they need to get to and how to get them there. Matt fits into that profile perfectly."
Speaking about his new role, Smith said: “It’s exciting, nerve wracking and challenging, all rolled into one.
“It was going to have to be something quite special to stop me playing rugby and I’ve always been told to retire to something not from something.
“I think I can have more of an influence as a coach with these young lads, given my experiences, and I am very passionate about where this club is going.
“The biggest thing I’ll be looking for is the attitude of these young men and they’ll be under no illusion about what it takes and what is required for them to take the next step at Tigers.”
Smith’s appointment is the second to be made as part of the club’s academy coaching structure with Greg Mannion appointed to the role of academy coach development officer & junior academy manager, working with Wilks and Smith in identifying talent throughout the developing player programme (DPP) and associated clubs and coaches.
Leicester Tigers academy coaching staff
- Academy manager – Dave Wilks
- Academy head coach – Matt Smith
- Academy coach – Tom Harrison
- Academy coach development officer & junior academy manager – Greg Mannion
- Specialist coaches – Brett Deacon & Boris Stankovich
- Academy administrator & team manager – Jamie Doig
Smith will has also been announced as one of the coaches for this season's Tigers Masterclass Camps at Welford Road from May 28 - June 1.