Ian Foster has won the two-horse race to succeed Steve Hansen as All Blacks coach, beating out Crusaders boss Scott Robertson to the role.
Robertson has enjoyed incredible success with the Canterbury side since taking over, leading them to three consecutive Super Rugby titles, but Foster has been a constant presence in the New Zealand set-up since 2012, working as attack coach and joining Hansen and Grant Fox on the selection panel.
Foster has only been given a two-year deal, but it is assumed he will sign an extension later in his tenure which will keep him in charge of the team through to the next World Cup.
Foster was previously the head coach of the Chiefs for an eight-year stint, although he didn’t enjoy the success which Robertson has, reaching just one final in 2009.
In making the announcement, New Zealand Rugby chairman Brett Impey confirmed four assistants will join Foster, although didn’t reveal who exactly will make up his team of assistants.
“While we can’t confirm the full make-up of the coaching team today, we’re delighted with the quality they bring − they have a wide range of coaching experiences and are a diverse group of thinkers,” Impey said.
“On behalf of New Zealand Rugby, I want to congratulate Ian on his appointment, and we wish him well for this next phase in the All Blacks’ story.”
It is believed, though, that John Plumtree, Brad Mooar and Greg Feek could be new faces amongst the wider coaching group, as could current assistants Scott McLeod and David Hill.
“I feel truly privileged and honoured to be given this opportunity and I can’t wait to lead the team into the next chapter of what is a remarkable legacy,” Foster said after being confirmed as head coach.
“I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the All Blacks over the last eight years and I’m excited and energised by a new coaching team who will join me.
“It’s incredibly humbling to be appointed to the job and I have a strong desire to serve the jersey well and represent New Zealand to the best of my ability.
New NZR CEO Mark Robinson praised Robertson, acknowledging it was tough to overlook the current Crusaders boss.
“As someone who knows ‘Razor’ well as a former teammate, he was a very impressive candidate and these decisions are never easy,” Robinson said.
“We know Razor is an outstanding coach and I have no doubt he’ll have a big future in our game at international level.”
For Robertson, who signed a two-year extension with the Crusaders and NZR Rugby earlier this year, a stint overseas now seems likely once his current contract expires.