At the end of the 2019 World Cup, Steve Hansen hung up his clipboard and the role of coaching the All Blacks was up for grabs.
The New Zealand Rugby Union’s biggest mistake was essentially breaking their shortlist of potential picks down to two men only, when so many great options were available.
Let’s look at the ‘diamonds’ who were available.
Rennie won three consecutive Under 20 titles from 2008-2010, then joined the Chiefs in 2012 and won a title in his maiden year, along with a second in 2013.
He has now taken up the head coaching role with the Wallabies, a team he has already improved and beaten his home nation already.
In four games, Rennie has won one, drawn one, and lost two.
Joseph had a successful stint from 2010-12 as the New Zealand Maori coach and in 2015 led the Highlanders to their maiden Super Rugby title.
He created strong bonds with Japanese rugby and is now coaching their national team as the NZRU was not interested in him.
Schmidt coached Ireland them to a trio of Six Nations titles from 2013-19 and two big victories over his compatriots the All Blacks.
As coach of Wales from 2007-19, he won the Six Nations title on four occasions, to go with three Grand Slams and a few successful Rugby World Cups.
Gatland also coached the British and Irish Lions tours to Australia in 2013 and New Zealand in 2017.
The NZRU gave him an early heads up he was not wanted, so he took up the coach’s role at the Chiefs.
Last but not least, we have the other man who was interviewed.
Robertson was coach of the New Zealand Under 20s from 2014-16, winning their World Cup in 2015.
He became Crusaders coach in 2017 and won the Super Rugby title three years in a row, as well as the COVID-caused ‘Aotearoa’ 2020 competition, meaning he has never lost the tournament since he’s been in charge.
Five diamonds gone by. Five of them!
The All Blacks had the world at their feet in terms of coaching, and they took on a rock in Ian Foster.
As coach of the Chiefs from 2004-11, Foster had a 50 per cent winning record and no titles, before becoming Hansen’s assistant coach from 2012-19.
Now, at the helm in 2020, his record from five games reads two wins, two losses and a draw.
It took Hansen three years to lose two games and Foster has done it in two weeks.
The NZRU chose to go with Hansen’s hand-picked choice of successor, even though Foster has no trophies to his name, instead of one of five coaches who have proven records.
My pick was Robertson, but I understand he is young, so I would have gone with Rennie as the All Blacks coach, with Robertson and Joseph as his assistants.
Rennie is a noted defensive coach. He would take charge of the defence.
Robertson has done wonders for the Crusaders’ backline, so he would control the backs.
In 2015, Joseph had the ‘no name’ pack of Nasi Manu and Elliott Dixon, playing like Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read. He controls the forwards.
Foster wouldn’t have been on the staff at all. His style of play is stale and outdated, while those three would have brought improvement.