Steve Hansen’s hiatus from rugby football was a short one.
He has accepted an emeritus position with Toyota Verblitz in the Top League, where he will be acting as a mentor and consultant for Verblitz and his fellow New Zealander Simon Cron, coach of the Japanese club.
After 16 years of various roles with New Zealand, the last eight as the head coach. To deny that someone of Hansen’s competitive nature might have liked to go out a couple of notes higher than the third New Zealand produced at the 2019 Rugby World Cup is a foregone conclusion.
Our expectation was that Hansen would eventually find a new role in football, but not quite so soon.
Hansen posted a video on the All Blacks’ Twitter feed, where he said, “I’ve got a new job, which involves me mentoring, consulting and advising at Toyota Verblitz. It’s not as a head coach, it’s more as an advisor, a mentor, and it requires me to be up there for five to 17 weeks a year.”
That seems like a lovely schedule. Perhaps he could telecommute and work remotely for the 35 to 47 weeks he is not physically in Japan.
Cron is just now moving into his role after two years with NSW Waratahs until the end of the 2019 Super Rugby season.
The undeniable reality is that there is money to be found in Japan.
Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read will be there for Verblitz and the Japanese game will certainly benefit from having its players line up with some of the best New Zealand has to offer on a daily basis.
New Zealand Rugby are soon to name a replacement for Hansen. The announcement is expected sometime in December. The current top names are Hansen’s assistant Ian Foster and Crusaders coach Scott Robertson.
Hansen will do his utmost to supply assistance to Verblitz and Cron without being heavy-handed.
The person who takes over New Zealand will have a tough act to follow, but at least it will be cool in Hansen’s shadow.