Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Is Steve Hansen still the right fit for the All Blacks?

When Steve Hansen says he's only a 50-50 chance of wanting to coach the All Blacks beyond 2017, he's not posturing for effect.

Hansen, equipped with a sharp tactical brain and poker face, is not angling for approval or inviting the nation to beg him to stay on until the next World Cup. He's not trying to pressure the New Zealand Rugby Union into opening talks early about an extension or pay him more money.

His uncertainty is genuine and based on several factors. The number one question he has and can't be sure about getting the answer right at this stage, is whether it would be best for the team to have him as coach beyond next year.

What has driven the All Blacks to new heights in the last four years is Hansen's simple prioritisation of one key tenet - the first, and sometimes only question players and coaches need to ask, is what's best for the team?

And that's where he's cautious. He signed up as assistant coach in 2004 and held that role through to 2011. Since 2012 he's been the head coach and by the time his current contract ends, he'll have been heavily involved for 13 years.

Just like long-serving players, two things matter in regard to persevering: form and desire.

Can he be certain in regard to the former, after so long with one team, that he's evolving and evaluating his contribution accurately? Is there a danger, he wonders, that because of his familiarity he'll slip, unconsciously, into comfortable habits that don't get the best out of himself or the team around him?

To stay on, he needs to be convinced that he's as demanding and honest as he'll need to be to ensure the team keeps developing. It's a tough job, mentally and physically demanding with long periods away from home. Only he will know whether he still has the passion for it beyond next year.

Having been involved in two successful World Cups and having played a huge role in building the most dominant team in history, maybe he'll feel - especially if the All Blacks beat the Lions in 2017 - that he's ticked all the boxes he ever wanted to tick.

Then there is the separate issue of his belief that the wider contracting model has to change - and that the All Black coach shouldn't be appointed at the end/beginning of the World Cup cycle.

That, he argued when he extended his contract at the end of 2014 through to the end of 2017, heightens the importance of the World Cup and can lead to coaches making short term decisions that don't benefit the team.

As part of that argument, he also said it's his view that a new coach can have a more obvious and bigger impact if he takes charge of the side mid-cycle and not at the beginning.

So when he says he's 50-50 - he really is.

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 30 May 2017 10:10:40 Processing Time: 831ms