During the time that Steve Hansen was making his occasional appearances at second-five for Canterbury in the early 1980s, an English punk rock band called The Clash released a song the All Black might be humming to himself over the next few weeks.

"Should I stay or should I go", was like Hansen's international coaching career – slow to start but in the end spectacularly successful. The Clash released the song in 1981 but it didn't become a hit for another decade. Hansen started with Wales in 2002 and it also took him 10 years to become number one with the number one team in the world. Unlike The Clash though, he's far from a one hit wonder.

But now he's made a decision that he will make a decision. Will he stay or will he go after the Rugby World Cup next year?


For me, there is no doubt. A cycle of great success is coming to a natural end.

There are signs of staleness and sameness emerging in All Black performances. There is also the quite distinct reality that, based on this year's worst results, New Zealand's World Cup campaign next year could be over in the quarter-finals.

That's based on losing to South Africa in pool play, finishing second in the group and then losing to Ireland in the first knockout match. I know that's a scenario just way too horrible to contemplate, but it is far from impossible.

There are many ways we can reflect on the loss to Ireland.

It's good for rugby, the Irish deserve it, they were the better team etc, etc. But it all comes down to the plain hard facts that the All Blacks were out-coached and out-thought. Not for the first time on this trip.

The top two teams in Europe, both with Southern Hemisphere coaches, have in the past two weeks strangled the All Blacks' try-scoring ability. Another expat coach did the same with the Lions here last year.

There is a lack of imagination in the All Blacks attack system. If there is a cunning plan to beat this suffocating rush defence which has led to the try drought, then we better start seeing signs of it in next year's Rugby Championship and it better be in top gear by World Cup time.

But surely the start of a new Rugby World Cup cycle in 2020 is the logical time to introduce a fresh and new All Black coaching setup, and not one based on a legacy from the current one.

Steve Hansen has been wildly successful, but there are signs that success has reached a plateau. Maybe we're being unkind because this tour has come at the end of a long year and more than a few players looked like they've been round the block once too often.

But based on what we've seen in the past two weeks, the chances of a third successive Rugby World Cup would only be 60-40.

By the end of the World Cup, Hansen will have been part of the All Blacks coaching group for 15 years.

In the overall scene of long-serving sports coaches that is barely an apprenticeship. Sir Alex was the gaffer at Manchester United for 27 years and Bill Belichick has run the New England Patriots since the year 2000. The daddy of them all is "Coach K" (real name Mike Krzyzewski) who's been the very successful head basketball coach at Duke University in North Carolina since 1980 - and now makes $9 million a year.

So there is nothing necessarily wrong with being a long serving head coach, except that in New Zealand rugby, actually in rugby anywhere, we don't do it that way.

We're also a net exporter of rugby coaching intellectual property. If Hansen stays on, or if one of his assistants takes over, that exporting will only gather pace - to the long term detriment of New Zealand rugby. Scott Robertson becomes a very valuable international commodity.

Steve, make the right call when you get home. You should go.