It is only a few days until December arrives and sometime during the month, New Zealand will announce the successor to Steve Hansen.
The “short” list is down after leading contenders Warren Gatland and Jamie Joseph both offered regrets and ruled themselves out of the running.
New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey recently made the announcement of the impending decision, simultaneously wishing Jamie Joseph well with his renewed contract to helm the Brave Blossoms of Japan through the 2023 World Cup.
“We congratulate and wish Jamie well as he continues his work coaching the Brave Blossoms,” Impey said in a statement picked up by Reuters. “We respect his decision and his abilities as a coach.”
There remains much interviewing and much negotiating to be done, but Impey would not be pinned down to a specific date.
“The All Blacks head coach selection panel will continue their shortlisting process, with interviews and negotiations to be conducted through November and early December.We are looking forward to announcing the next head coach of the All Blacks next month.”
The most desirable job in rugby from some perspectives, from others, it is sticking out the neck for the axe forged from Hansen’s legacy with the All Blacks.
New Zealand assistant Ian Foster is considered a prime candidate and he has the support of many current All Blacks players, as well as offering some sense of continuity of Hansen’s syllabus.
Crusaders’ coach Scott Robertson is another of the favourites.
The list of candidates was as long as 26 earlier in November, and could have potentially been formed by selection one candidate for every letter of the alphabet, but replacing Hansen is not a task for the timid.
Neither is gaining the job ideal for a shrinking violet, as whoever is chosen will immediately be subject to comparisons to Hansen, asked questions about how he intends to build on Hansen’s success, and otherwise have his entire background subjected to intense examination.
In 107 international matches under Hansen, the All Blacks won 83 times, drew four and lost 10, so the new man is going to need some good fortune, but even Hansen lost to Australia, Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa, so winning against those sides would be an excellent beginning, while losing to France, something Hansen never suffered in 10 matches, might be a bad omen.