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Aviva Premiership
Smith: Edwards is still the best
ESPN Staff
December 19, 2012
Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards, Wales training session, Newtown Park, Wellington, New Zealand, October 5, 2011
Shaun Edwards was snubbed for the Lions tour to Australia © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Shaun Edwards | Brian Smith
Tournaments/Tours: Aviva Premiership

Shaun Edwards has received the 100% backing of London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith after enduring a difficult few months.

The London Irish and Wales defence coach was earlier this month omitted from Warren Gatland's coaching team for the British & Irish Lions' tour to Australia. It followed poor results for Wales in the autumn internationals while the pressure is on Edwards at club level as well with London Irish struggling with the worst defensive record in the Aviva Premiership.

Irish are second bottom in the Aviva Premiership table after conceding 291 points, including 25 tries, in their opening ten fixtures in the league. But Edwards retains the full support of his boss.

"I am backing Shaun Edwards 100%, he's the best defence coach I have worked with," Smith told the BBC. "I could not speak more highly of him. It's a challenging time but Shaun is not missing the tackles."

Smith continued: "In terms of the performance of the club the buck stops with me. At the end of the day I have put together the coaching staff, I have put together some of the playing staff. But ultimately I am responsible for the programme and Shaun Edwards' track record speaks for itself and [he] is a world class coach.

"The boys love him here. He delivered an outstanding session today [Tuesday] and winning speaks in team meetings and you could hear a pin drop.

"There is a massive amount of respect for him but he is a very intense man and proud man and I am sticking with the crew I've got. Loyalty is a massive part of the game and if the club wants to get loyalty then it needs to show loyalty."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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