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by Rugby4Cast / 10th December 2018

New Zealand Head Coach Possibilities

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The rumour mill is in full flow. Current All Blacks coach Steve Hansen might potentially moving into a newly created role as New Zealand’s Director of Rugby post Rugby World Cup 2019. Where will that leave the All Blacks? Our resident Kiwi 4Caster Callum Pirie has had a look at some of the possible candidates if in fact this does come to pass…   

Ian Foster


Ian Foster is probably ‘first in the queue’ given he is the current All Blacks assistant coach but he may not be the public’s first choice. However, saying this if Foster was promoted it would have the weight of history behind it. Steve Hansen, who was the previous assistant coach in the Graham Henry era got the same treatment.
The good news is that ‘Fozzie’ is already a part of the All Blacks camp. He will have built up strong relationships with the players and have a knowledge about the way the All Blacks work. However his lack of success with the Chiefs in the Super Rugby competition might still be on people’s minds even if he was promoted to the All Blacks coaching staff in 2012.
Another factor that could play against him is compared to other possible candidates Foster does not have any international experience as a fully fledged head coach. Might this affect his chances of getting a tap on the shoulder?
We have taken a look at Foster’s coaching record for the Super Rugby team the Waikato Chiefs from 2004-2011 during which time the Chiefs scored an average of 25.1 points and let in 24.4 points per season. As can be seen from our internal Super Rugby rankings calculation below, Foster had a good first 6 years with the Chiefs before a poor 2010 and 2011, which eventually lead to his dismissal.

Scott Robertson


Robertson joined as Crusaders head coach in 2017 and immediately guided them to the Super Rugby title in his maiden year. Beginners luck, you say? Well in 2018 the Crusaders did it again and are currently back to back champions.
Robertson has actually recently said that he’s interested in the All Blacks role and has made significant changes in the last two years, including recruiting big names to join his coaching roster such as Ronan O’Gara. This could show he has the calm, non egotistical head that could land him the role.
However, many will question if he has enough experience to be the next All Blacks coach? Is it worth taking a punt on him? Is it too soon? Maybe …

The Crusaders have got some serious numbers to back up his credentials however, scoring on average 34.1 points in the last two seasons and letting in just 18.1 points. They’ve only lost 4 times in 2017 and 2018, one of which was to the British and Irish Lions on their tour last year.
Robertson’s time at head coach has also seen the Crusaders rise to the top of the Rugby4Cast Super Rugby rankings, overtaking the Hurricanes earlier this year.

 

Warren Gatland


A drawn series with the British and Irish Lions side against New Zealand in 2018 with almost no preparation certainly puts this man’s name in the hat. And that’s not even counting his record with Wales.
Gatland’s contract with the WRU expires after the 2019 RWC and in 2018 has led Wales to a strong November International series with 4 out of 4 wins. They claimed the scalps of South Africa and Australia, beginning to reverse his poor record against Southern Hemisphere teams.
Coaching Wales and the British and Irish Lions twice has given him plenty of international experience and would have helped him prepare for the pressures to go with coaching the (current) world’s best side. However the New Zealand public don’t exactly ‘love him’ … well the New Zealand media certainly don’t anyway. However, the drawn series certainly will have gone a long way to restoring his credibility.
Gatland took over Wales towards the end of 2007. Since then Wales have won a total of 75 games and lost 60 with the winning percentage at 55%. Wales on average per season since then have scored 23.1 points and let in 19.5 points.
Gatland has presided over a steady rise in Welsh rankings, taking them to their current high of 3rd in the world. They are also a team many people tip as one of the outsiders to win the World Cup.

 

Joe Schmidt


Joe has effectively called his time on coaching after the 2019 World Cup but not everyone is convinced with former Ireland Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan calling him on his ‘bluff’ and thinks New Zealand born Schmidt will be back in coaching before too long.
O’Sullivan thinks that Schmidt will take a year off and then return which would ultimately see him miss out on the All Blacks role as the current timings stand, but is it all a smoke screen? Could we see a turn of events later in the year once Hansen makes his announcement? Will Schmidt be thrust back into coaching and be a part of the New Zealand coaching staff or move into a Super Rugby team?

There have been reports that Schmidt doesn’t take criticism very well and with New Zealand living and breathing rugby and the All Blacks not only being judged on the performance but on certain players performances, team selections and tactics, it could be too much for Schmidt to handle. Steven Hansen knows this only too well with the New Zealand media calling for him to go after the loss to Ireland last month.
Since Joe Schmidt has since joined Ireland as their head coach in 2013 they have won three 6 Nations titles, two back to back in 2014 and 2015, with the third being the 2018 Grand Slam. He has also lead Ireland on arguably their best ever run, winning 46 matches since he took over and losing just 16 – including two famous wins over New Zealand. Serious credentials indeed.

 

Conclusion

So who will take over? It’s impossible to say of course. But all things considered, New Zealanders should feel pretty comfortable about their options on the person to replace Hansen’s sizeable shoes.

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