Coach Steve Hansen commits to New Zealand through to 2017
All Blacks head coach rewarded with new contract before next year's Rugby World Cup title defence in England
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has signed a contract extension with the world champions until 2017.
It means the 55-year-old former Wales head coach, who has been named World Rugby’s coach of the year for the last three years, will be in charge of the All Blacks when the British and Irish Lions tour New Zealand that summer.
Hansen’s contract had been due to run until the end of next summer’s Rugby World Cup in England, but the New Zealand Rugby Union were happy to make the unprecedented step of offering the Otago native a new deal prior to the All Blacks’ title defence.
“Steve is the first All Blacks coach to be given a contract extension beyond a rugby World Cup which demonstrates just how much faith the Board and our wider organisation, together with the All Blacks players and management, have in him,” NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement.
“He has huge experience and under his guidance the All Blacks have reached remarkable heights.
“To have him re-sign as Head Coach through to 2017 gives the All Blacks the continuity they will need as they make the transition into 2016 and beyond, following next year’s Rugby World Cup.”
Hansen succeeded his mentor Graham Henry in the role after the latter led the All Blacks in a successful World Cup campaign on home soil in 2011, where they defeated France in the final.
He became assistant coach to Henry with the All Blacks after his two-year stint with Wales ended in 2004.
I asked myself if I still had the hunger and desire to continue in the role, which I do, so the decision to continue became a no-brainer, because there is no better job in world rugby
Since the former Canterbury centre took charge of the All Blacks, they have won 38 of their 42 Test matches, with just two losses.
After retaining their Rugby Championship title, with just one defeat to South Africa in 2014, Hansen led the All Blacks to four wins from four matches in the northern hemisphere last month.
His next task will be to lead the All Blacks to the successful defence of that title and their World Cup crown next year, while preparing for an exodus of aging playing talent, either to big-money deals with European clubs or retirement.
“I am honoured by the faith and confidence the Board has shown in me by offering an extension to my contract,” Hansen said.
“It’s a privilege to be part of the All Blacks and not something you could ever take for granted.
“After getting the support of my family and various team personnel to continue, I asked myself if I still had the hunger and desire to continue in the role, which I do, so the decision to continue became a no-brainer, because there is no better job in world rugby.
“Whilst I am well aware that there is a lot of work to do, I am really looking forward to the future, starting with 2015 and the opportunity and challenge that awaits us at the Rugby World Cup. 2016 will bring its own challenges with a number of senior players likely to be moving on, and then 2017, when the British and Irish Lions tour, which will be massive.”