New Zealand Rugby has held onto one of its masterminds.

Newstalk ZB understands that Wayne Smith will put pen to paper for another two years.

After only agreeing to a short term deal as defence coach to help the All Blacks defend the Rugby World Cup, Smith will now stay on NZR's books until the end of the British and Irish Lions tour in 2017.

Last month it was reported that English club side Harlequins was aggressively pursuing Smith as a head coach option, but NZR Chief Executive Steve Tew confirmed to Newstalk ZB that there would be an official announcement about Smith's future soon.

Steve Hansen's future as All Blacks coach after 2017 is uncertain, with Tew saying they will be patient in negotiations.

"Not sure about a timeline for Steve, my experience with him is now 15 years old and we'll drive a timetable that is best determined by being patient.


"We'll have those conversations - they key thing now is to lock up the core group now for this year which we're very close to doing and then we'll move onto a longer-term view - like we've done with the players."

New Zealand Rugby is also beginning the processes of locking up key All Blacks to long-term contracts with the 2019 Rugby World Cup in mind.

"We're pretty comfortable with where our player contracting is in the immediate term, but we're now starting to focus on some of the guys that are only extended as far as 2017, and start talking to them about 2018 and 2019.

"There is an increasing murmuring around the group that we've got that they will really want to be around here in 2019 and create another chapter."