The battle for the next All Blacks head coach is down to only three contenders, according to leading New Zealand rugby broadcaster Scotty Stevenson.

Stevenson has taken to Twitter claiming that the search for Steve Hansen's successor is "looking like a three horse race" between Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson, Japan's Jamie Joseph, and Hansen's assistant Ian Foster.

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It had been widely accepted that former Chiefs coach Dave Rennie was also a strong favourite but it would seem he has now dropped out of the race to replace Hansen, who stepped down after the All Blacks' failed World Cup campaign in Japan, bowing out after seven years in the role.

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Rennie has also been strongly linked to the Australian head coaching role vacated by Michael Cheika after the Wallabies' humiliating quarter-final exit.

Dave Rennie. Photo / Photosport
Dave Rennie. Photo / Photosport

According to Stevenson, NZR are expected to announce the new coach on December 12, though a NZR spokesperson denied they will unveil the coach on that date.

Last week, New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey revealed that the organisation had invited applications from 26 Kiwi coaches.

John Mitchell, Warren Gatland and Aaron Mauger have already ruled themselves out of contention.