Steve Hansen faces competition from at least two other applicants for the role of All Blacks coach.

Applications for the role of Graham Henry's successor closed on Friday night and while Hansen is seen as a shoo-in for the role, it is understood that at least two others are keen on it too.

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by a panel including New Zealand Rugby Union high performance manager Don Tricker during the week beginning December 12. Following the initial interview up to two candidates will be interviewed by the NZRU board. A decision is likely to be made by December 22.

Hansen, currently in London after helping Henry coach the Barbarians to a 60-11 defeat by the Wallabies at Twickenham, has made no secret of the fact he has applied for the role.

Advertisement

It has been reported that John Kirwan has also applied but the former Italy and Japan coach is unlikely to get far in his bid for the top job as he does not fulfil the qualifying criteria.

That was set out plainly in the invitation emailed to potential candidates, which stated: "Must have coached one of the following in the last 12 months - Super Rugby for a New Zealand franchise, Heartland/ITM Cup, All Blacks, a New Zealand national team or completed a minimum of three years cumulatively in any of these roles. This 'qualification' to remain valid for up to five years from the date the coach ended their involvement with the New Zealand team."

However, NZRU chief executive Steve Tew has said the criteria might not apply as strictly to assistant coaches, so Kirwan, who is also said to be interested in a role with England, might not be completely out of the frame.

Several high-profile coaches in New Zealand, including Todd Blackadder, Jamie Joseph and Colin Cooper had ruled out applying for the job.

Hansen is likely to choose Ian Foster and Mick Byrne as his assistants, with friend and business partner Aussie McLean, who helped coach Samoa at the recent World Cup, also in the mix.

A former coach of Wales, Hansen has been an assistant All Blacks coach since 2004. Former fellow assistant Wayne Smith will help coach the Chiefs in next year's Super Rugby competition.