Tony Brown just made it very easy for New Zealand Rugby.
In a refreshingly straight forward statement , Brown said he had turned down approaches to be the All Black coaching running mate for Ian Foster and Scott Robertson.
Everybody wants Tony Brown as their assistant. And Tony Brown is sticking with his Japan coaching comrade Jamie Joseph wherever he goes, rather than shopping himself around.
In other words, if Joseph wants the All Black job, he and Brown are the outstanding candidates.
Japan's amazing World Cup performances were down to ground breaking coaching. There's absolutely no doubt about that. The clearly expressed and decisive integrity Brown has displayed this week might well be a key ingredient in their secret sauce.
Having taken the Highlanders to their first Super Rugby title, head coach Joseph and assistant Brown showed that they are as adaptable as they are adept.
The way they turned lightweights Japan into a force, having bounced back from a disappointing patch to rebuild the Highlanders, shows their strength of character and ability to operate under pressure.
Japan, with limited player resources, were breathtaking. The former minnows showed the big guns new ways to play, moving the ball sharply at every point. The degree to which Japan over-achieved should not be overlooked.
There are never any guarantees with coaching appointments. You can never be totally sure what lies around the corner. But the Joseph-Brown combo is so compelling.
Had the All Blacks carried on their merry way, current assistant Ian Foster would have rightly been in pole position. But the last three seasons have been too erratic for Foster's good.
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It hasn't been a disaster, far from it. The final principals - Steve Hansen, Foster, Mike Cron, Scott McLeod and Grant Fox – kept New Zealand somewhere near the summit.
But in the final analysis, the manner of the semifinal defeat against England means the last three years were not good enough by All Black standards. Ultimately, the All Blacks failed, just as England failed in the final.
I believe the biggest technical problem was a failure to recognize quickly enough the type of props needed for test rugby. The departing Cron turned New Zealand into a scrummaging power, but the rest of the world looked past that.
The teams beating and/or outplaying the All Blacks have ball carrying props with high work rates. South African loosehead Steven Kitshoff and Irish tighthead Tadhg Furlong are the prime examples, but there are many others including a number of Aussies.
A lot of things will fall back into place for the All Blacks if they write an expanded job description for frontrowers, but it is also the right time to see if different prospectors can uncover new gems.
Things haven't been sliding, but they have been slipping. Foster opted not to pursue a head coaching career overseas, then the All Blacks lost their glow. His failure to secure Brown as his coaching mate looks like a fatal blow.
Scott Robertson could develop into a great international coach, but he's a one trick Super Rugby pony so far. Brown's decision means Robertson has been caught short, despite the Crusaders' success.
There is talk that his Crusaders' assistant Ronan O'Gara might join Robertson's proposed All Black team. But given New Zealand's amazing coaching prowess, and the residency rules for players, it seems inconceivable that NZR would appoint a foreign coach to such a high position. The All Black formula for success includes a huge homegrown factor.
I don't read too much into Beauden Barrett's apparent plea for some continuity in the coaching ranks. It was a sound bite, Barrett having just stepped off the plane from Japan.
But it is a stance open to serious question. Given what happened in Japan, this is actually the perfect moment for a new broom, as Hansen departs after 16 mainly amazing years in the All Black coaching setup.
Brown says he would coach the All Blacks tomorrow, so the big decision lies with Joseph. Hansen's long reign should make it clear to Joseph that this might be his only chance for the top job.
He needs to strike while the iron is hot, and so should NZR's new chief executive Mark Robinson.
It's was Joseph v Robertson to my mind and Brown delivered the decisive verdict on that one.