All Black coach Steve Hansen has announced a contract extension that will see him lead the side through to 2015 Rugby World Cup.
As reported in the Herald on Sunday, the New Zealand Rugby Union agreed at their March board meeting to back Hansen as the man to deliver their stated goal of winning back-to-back World Cups.
His new contract was announced at a press conference in Wellington today.
The incumbent head coach was initially appointed in December 2011 on a two-year deal, replacing Sir Graham Henry after the last World Cup.
Viewed unanimously as the right choice at the end of 2011, Hansen has firmed his credentials in the last 14 months. His new contract provides him with the security he needs to begin planning for the World Cup.
Having finished 2012 with a record of 12 wins, one draw and a solitary loss, the board felt comfortable making an early decision to lock Hansen in until 2015.
"I am looking forward to not only the challenges that are coming this year, but right through to 2015. Having the opportunity to try and recapture the Webb Ellis Cup is something that I'm really excited by," Hansen said.
"Our focus as always will be on enhancing the All Blacks legacy. In doing that, it will be about not only winning Test matches today but also making sure we have the experience and personnel to win Test matches tomorrow and beyond."
Hansen said while the team had been very happy with its results last year, they also realised it had to grow.
"We have to keep growing both our leadership experience so that we have more players who can make good decisions in the big moments and we need to grow our game so we stay in front rather than allowing others to catch up.
"We also need to get our timing right when it comes to introducing more new faces into the team. In saying that, clearly it will make the next few years tougher than last year, but that's something we are looking forward to."
Meanwhile, in other appointments, All Blacks Manager Darren Shand has also extended his contract with New Zealand Rugby through to Rugby World Cup 2015, while Dr Tony Page has been appointed to the role of All Blacks Doctor, replacing Dr Deb Robinson who stepped down earlier this year after six years in the job.
- nzherald.co.nz/Herald on Sunday