One non-mystery has been solved with the confirmation Steve Hansen will be the All Blacks new head coach but the plot has thickened around the make-up of his wider management team.

The New Zealand Rugby Union board has accepted Hansen's team in principle and is now in the process of making contract offers to an assistant coach and a range of specialists. An announcement is due before Christmas and until the full picture is known, it is hard to know just what to make of the All Blacks future prospects.

Hansen was the only choice as head coach. The NZRU board clearly thought so as he was the only man they put through for a final interview. The appointment panel short-listed one other - thought to be Clermont coach Vern Cotter - but only Hansen was sent on for a three-hour grilling from the full board.

In those three hours Hansen was able to convince them that he had the right team to achieve his key goal of enhancing the All Black legacy. That was always going to be the hard part - coaching these days is no longer about the individual; it is all about the package.


The last eight years have changed mind-sets in that regard. Graham Henry, Wayne Smith and Hansen were a tight-knit group who combined effortlessly and expertly. They had complementary skills and their combined knowledge was one of the key weapons of the All Blacks successful World Cup campaign.

Hansen's ability to retain an 85 per cent win ratio is hugely dependent on the wider team he builds. Just who he has in mind remains a mystery. Former Chiefs coach Ian Foster and former Canterbury coach Aussie McLean have been touted as possibilities. Current All Black specialist coach Mick Byrne is keen to stay on and it may be that these three are all going to be involved.

Only when confirmation comes can the process of evaluation begin in earnest. Already Hansen has surprised by stating that he felt there was only one candidate with the requisite skills and experience to operate as his assistant. He made it clear that while he may have formed ideas about a potential coaching team earlier this year, his thoughts have evolved and gradually certain people he had in mind have fallen off his radar. He said that the more he researched and the more he thought about the skills that would be required to strengthen the team, it became apparent certain individuals were not going to be involved.