All Blacks: Come in, number three

New All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. Photo / Mark Mitchell
New All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Steve Hansen's management team will contain a major surprise when it is unveiled this week, as the new coach says there will be an external selector in the new regime.

Hansen has managed to keep the identity of the candidate a closely guarded secret as the rugby fraternity has no inkling who is in the frame.

Both Graham Henry and Wayne Smith would be ideal for the role but both have made it clear they want to spend time overseas.

Tana Umaga has the understanding as well as good knowledge of the current players, having spent last season with the Chiefs - but he will now coach Counties Manukau after incumbent Milton Haig landed the coach's job at Georgia.

The invitation was made because Hansen was conscious that his chosen coaching and management group are short of international experience.

It's also likely that, from the management group, only Hansen and his probable assistant Ian Foster will be selectors and that it would be better to have an odd number.

The external selector will have no management or coaching responsibilities. The secrecy around this mystery selector is in stark contrast to the likely make-up of the wider coaching team.

Former Chiefs coach Foster is expected to be the one assistant coach, with former Canterbury coach Aussie McLean believed to be the choice as defence analyst, while Mick Byrne will remain on board as a skills specialist.

"What's happened with time is that slowly but surely people have dropped off the list because they haven't fitted into what we are trying to achieve," said Hansen.

"Do they complement my needs? Do they complement the team needs? Do they have the expertise in the areas we need them to have it in?

"Slowly but surely, as you do more research on each individual, people drop off the list. In the end, it became quite clear who those people should be."

Hansen also admitted that he'll quite happily lean on both Smith and Henry for advice during the season.

"I will look around for them because for eight years they have been there. But they will always be there - they will be good for advice."

- Herald on Sunday

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