All Blacks: Grant Fox eagerly awaiting new job as selector

Grant Fox. Photo / NZPA
Grant Fox. Photo / NZPA

New All Blacks' selector Grant Fox didn't think twice about accepting the job offer, even if it meant less time working on his tan this summer.

The former first five eighth was today announced as an independent selector in new coach Steve Hansen's management team, a role Fox said was too good to turn down.

"My first reaction was, 'Shag [Hansen], I'm just trying to get my life back'," he said. "But this is just a great chance to be involved with the team that I'm very passionate about, without a massive time commitment."

Fox played 46 tests for the All Blacks from 1985 to 1993 and was most recently seen as a rugby commentator with Sky Sport. It was announced earlier this week he had left that role - something Fox insisted was merely coincidental - and was looking forward to a summer spent at the beach with his family.

But those summer plans will now be injected with a distinct rugby flavour.

"Sky, I'd given up ages ago to try and get my weekends back and spend some time at home with my wife and use our beach place a bit more, but now I'm back into it," he said.

"With modern technology we can do a reasonable amount of the job on computer screens and TV sets at home. I've got Sky at my beach place so no doubt I'll be watching a fair bit of rugby at the beach."

Despite an interrupted summer, Fox said when his country came calling the decision was a no-brainer, especially considering his new role is bereft of any hands-on work with players.

"From a coaching point of view, if it had been that, I would've said no. That time commitment is not where I want to be. I've got to watch a fair few games, but most of that up north."

The 49-year-old described his role as operating outside of the selection duo of Hansen and his newly-named assistant Ian Foster.

"Steve wants someone on the outside of the group looking in," Fox said. "If you're working with the group, you're really close to it and sometimes you miss things, whereas someone on the outside might see something a little bit different.

"That's part of what he wants me to bring - to be on the outside, to challenge their thinking, to debate."

Something that will aid that sense of separation will be an absence of prior relationship between Fox and his new colleagues. Fox has had no experience working with Hansen, Foster or new defence coach Aussie McLean, nor did he consider that fact detrimental.

"I didn't even ask who [Hansen's] running mates were," he said. "We all know each other, we've all crosses paths at some stage, and I've got no doubt that working relationship will be as good as gold."

One obvious challenge for that relationship will arise when it comes to selecting the country's finest forwards. Hansen was former coach Graham Henry's forwards coach but the other three men are all former five-eighths, something Fox admitted could be an issue.

"I don't have knowledge in terms of detailed expertise about every position," he said. "We'll obviously discuss all positions and all players but, clearly, Steve will have more expertise in the forward area. When you get into debate you'd probably trust his judgement a little more than your own."

That certainly doesn't mean the other mean would be silent partners, Fox said.

"That'll be interesting because five-eighths all like to talk a bit and yabber and argue."

- APNZ

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