Steve Hansen is set to quit as All Blacks coach after next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan – and take up a newly created role as New Zealand Rugby's director of rugby.

That's the stunning claim made by former Irish test back-rower Alan Quinlan.

Quinlan, who played 27 tests for the Irish between 1999 and 2008, claims to have details about NZR's succession plan should Hansen decide to stand down as All Blacks head coach after next year's World Cup – in a similar move to that of Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.

Schmidt announced late on Monday night (NZT) that he will "finish coaching" after the Japan showpiece to "prioritise family commitments".

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Former All Blacks halfback Justin Marshall reportedly knows who will be Steve Hansen's successor. Photo / Getty
Former All Blacks halfback Justin Marshall reportedly knows who will be Steve Hansen's successor. Photo / Getty

Speaking on the On The Ball AM show, Quinlan reveals he has spoken to former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson, who claim to have inside information on Hansen's future.

"I spoke to Jeff Wilson last week and I was asking him and Justin Marshall: 'What's the talk back home in New Zealand?'," Quinlan says.

"Both of them were saying there's no major talk of Joe Schmidt coming back. They know what he's achieving and people know he's doing really well in Ireland. The talk is that Steve Hansen is going up as a director of rugby and then there will be a possibility of a [vacant head coach] position."

According to Quinlan, the expectation is that All Blacks assistant Ian Foster will replace Hansen.

"The thing that happened when Graham Henry left was that Hansen stepped up. So, there's not an awful lot of change or structure to the group.

"There's talk that a similar scenario is happening with Ian Foster and he'll step up and take the head coach role - with Hansen moving up into that director of rugby role."

Ian Foster is expected to take over as All Blacks head coach. Photo / Getty
Ian Foster is expected to take over as All Blacks head coach. Photo / Getty

Hansen is expected to make an announcement on his future on December 17 in Christchurch.

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Quinlan doesn't think Schmidt, who led the Irish to a historic win over the All Blacks a fortnight ago, will return to New Zealand any time soon.

"He might not go back for a while, he might take a break. Any of the Super Rugby franchises will take him. He could go to Australia and take a job there," Quinlan said.

"Everyone would want Joe if he went back down to the Southern Hemisphere."