New Zealand rugby union head coach Steve Hansen announces his decision
New Zealander’s departure will mark the end of an era in international rugby
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has announced that he will stand down after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
After being named as Graham Henry’s assistant in 2004, Hansen was appointed to the top job in New Zealand rugby in 2012 and led the All Blacks to victory at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Hansen’s side will be favourites for next year’s tournament in Japan but it will his last in charge of the all-conquering All Blacks.
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, the 59-year-old said: “We’re all here to establish whether I’m staying or going, so, I’m going.
“I think after 16 years it’s been a wonderfully privileged time to be involved in rugby in New Zealand but from a New Zealand Rugby point of view, I think it’s fair to give them the time to find a replacement.
“The turbulence of trying to find a replacement after the World Cup, whether it’s a good one or a bad one, is not really the way to do the process.
“It also means we won’t be distracted by you guys asking me every five minutes am I staying or going. So that will be great and we’ll be able to concentrate on what we have to do.”
Leaving on his own terms
Following the announcement, The Guardian’s Bret Harris said Hansen’s departure from the New Zealand job in 2019 will mark the end of an era in international rugby union.
“The All Blacks have lost only eight of 96 Tests under Hansen, an incomparable record, but they appear to have plateaued,” said Harris. “They are still the best team in the world, but will face a monumental challenge from Ireland at the World Cup.
“Hansen has a rare opportunity to depart on his terms with a record that may never be bettered. If the All Blacks win the World Cup next year, they will become the first team to win the tournament three times in a row [four overall] and Hansen will become the first head coach to win it twice.
“Whatever happens it will be the end of an era.”