New All Blacks coach named Friday

Steve Hansen has been tipped to be named the new All Blacks coach. Photo / Greg Bowker
Steve Hansen has been tipped to be named the new All Blacks coach. Photo / Greg Bowker

The new All Blacks coach will be announced on Friday but the only uncertainties are whether Steve Hansen's assistants will also be unveiled and how long he will be given the job.

It's widely acknowledged Hansen is the man to take over from Graham Henry and the NZRU board will meet on Friday to rubber-stamp the appointment. It shouldn't take long - it took about 20 minutes for Henry to be reappointed in 2007 - but it's less certain whether his assistants will also be named.

A team of Hansen, former Chiefs coach Ian Foster (backs) and former Canterbury coach Aussie McLean (forwards) seems the most likely with Mick Byrne remaining as skills coach. Byrne has expressed an interest in becoming forwards coach, a role he filled with Japan at this year's World Cup, but his lack of experience might count against him becoming one of the three main All Blacks coaches.

It's a lack of international experience in the Hansen package that is the biggest concern and it might be a reason why the NZRU delay officially naming Hansen's assistants until meeting with the candidates further.

There's seemingly no one with a compelling case with Henry and Wayne Smith out of the picture, and the fact the same All Blacks coaching trio has been in place for eight years is a reason for that, but the NZRU will want to be seen to be covering all bases.

McLean was Samoa assistant during the World Cup and has also filled a role as resource coach with the NZRU.

Vern Cotter, who recently signed a new deal with French club side Clermont but has an exit clause, is widely believed to be on the shortlist and Joe Schmidt, currently in charge of Heineken Cup winners Leinster, might also be in the running.

Cotter and Schmidt actually present a good case as a coaching package, having worked together at Bay of Plenty and Clermont, but won't usurp Hansen for the top job. Cotter has said he's not interested in being a No 2.

The NZRU have given some thought to giving Hansen a three- or even four-year contract with the ability to terminate things if performance objectives aren't met but it's likely they will stick with a two-year deal with the possibility of a two-year extension.

The landscape might have changed considerably by the end of 2013, with the likes of Todd Blackadder, Jamie Joseph and Pat Lam considerably more experienced by then.

Hansen, who has the backing of the outgoing Henry, coached Wales in 2002 and 2003 before joining the All Blacks in 2004. He previously won three NPC titles with Canterbury between 1997 and 2001 and served as Crusaders assistant when they won the Super Rugby title in 1999 and 2000.

- APNZ

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