Hurricanes head coach John Plumtree is a key appointment among three men confirmed as assistants to new All Blacks coach Ian Foster.
New Zealand rugby coach Ian Foster believes he has the right band of lieutenants with him to take the All Blacks to a new level.
Three of Foster’s four assistants were unveiled on Thursday, including experienced Hurricanes head coach John Plumtree.
Scott McLeod and scrum specialist Greg Feek are the other two.
The fourth assistant will be Brad Mooar, as long as New Zealand rugby can successfully negotiate a release from UK outfit Scarlets.
Former Crusaders coach Mooar became coach of the Welsh province this year.
Since his announcement last week as the replacement for Steve Hansen, former All Blacks assistant Foster has spent time finalising his coaching staff.
All have joined Foster on two-year contracts.
And he believes they have the right blend to be successful in the wake of their disappointing third-placing at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“They’re all outstanding coaches in their own right, and we’ll have new voices and fresh ideas in the All Blacks, which will be really stimulating for everyone, and help us grow as we enter a new era,” Foster told reporters.
“We’ve been able to get some skill sets that are going to be vital in helping where the All Blacks go in a number of areas.”
Foster has ensured some continuity by retaining McLeod, who will keep hold of the defence portfolio he has owned for the past two years.
He has also convinced former All Blacks great Grant Fox to stay on as a selector for at least one more year.
A key introduction is that of the well-travelled Plumtree, who will join Foster and Fox on the three-man selection panel and will take charge of the forwards.
The 54-year-old has held jobs in Wales (Swansea 1997-2001), South Africa (Sharks 2008-12) and Ireland (national team forwards coach 2013-14).
Plumtree was the Hurricanes assistant for four years, helping them win a maiden title in 2016, before taking the top job last season.
“I really felt that this team needs another head coach with experience and John’s got a lot of that,” Foster said.
Former All Blacks prop Feek, 44, has spent the past eight years in Ireland, much of it as the national team’s scrum coach.
He replaces the long-serving Mike Cron.
Newly-appointed NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said a strong assistant coaching group was one reason for Foster’s appointment – seeing off the challenge of Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson.