Rugby-Mission accomplished, Smith heads back into retirement after World Cup triumph

Women's World Cup - Final - England v New Zealand

AUCKLAND (Reuters) - Wayne Smith said he would be heading back into retirement after transforming the Black Ferns from a side humbled in Europe at the end of last year into world champions again on Saturday.

Staying true to the adventurous high-tempo style Smith introduced, New Zealand beat an England side who had thrashed them twice last year to clinch a sixth world crown.

The former All Blacks assistant coach, who masterminded two World Cup triumphs with the men's side, said the experience had been one of the best of his life.

"Even if we hadn't won today, it would have been worth it," he said. "They're wonderful women. They've had to struggle to get here - a lot of them work. We're professionalising the game, I think it's going to be a great game.

"I'm so proud of this team. I've been proud of them since we started running the ball because they've got an attacking attitude and they never go back."

Captain Ruahei Demant, player of the match in the final, said Smith had challenged the mindset of the Black Ferns from the day he took over in April.

"When he first introduced himself to us, he said he's never followed the herd and he's always done things differently and that's exactly the type of coach he is," she said.

"He definitely doesn't do things by the book and all the players have shown the courage to play different and that's what's so exciting about the style we play."

Smith said he thought New Zealand had some of the best young women's rugby players in the world and needed to make the most of the excitement surrounding the Black Ferns after their triumph on home soil.

"I never thought in a hundred years that I'd be standing out in middle of Eden Park with 40,000 people chanting 'Black Ferns'," said Smith.

"Something's ignited in this country around women's rugby and we've got to make it count. That was the most phenomenal moment of my rugby life hearing all those people chanting these women's names."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Ed Osmond)