The All Blacks going back-to-back at the World Cup is one of the key goals
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will oversee New Zealand's World Cup title defence in 2015 after being given a two-year contract extension, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) said Wednesday.
Hansen was initially appointed for a two-year term, after serving as assistant coach under Graham Henry when the All Blacks won the showcase tournament on home soil.
NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew said Hansen had proved a success in the top job and deserved a shot at steering the team to back-to-back world titles in England.
"I want to congratulate Steve on his reappointment," Tew said.
"He had an outstanding first year as head coach and his coaching and leadership helped the team build on its exceptional legacy," Tew said.
New Zealand won 12 of their 14 Test matches during Hansen's first season in charge, claiming the Rugby Championship, Bledisloe Cup and a three-Test series against Ireland, as well as retaining their No.1 world ranking.
Tew said the reappointment of Hansen, who won the International Rugby Board and New Zealand Coach of the Year awards last year, had been unanimously endorsed by the NZRU board at a recent meeting.
He said while Hansen and his fellow selectors Ian Foster and Grant Fox had last year concentrated on the "here and now", they had also kept one eye on the future, introducing nine new players into the All Blacks.
"Having the All Blacks go back-to-back at World Cup is one of the key goals for our organisation over the next three years and we look forward to working with Steve and the rest of the All Blacks team to help them achieve that goal."
Hansen said he was excited at the prospect of defending the World Cup and wanted to create a blend of experience and fresh talent that would keep the All Blacks ahead of their challengers.
"We have to keep growing both our leadership experience so that we have more players who can make good decisions in the big moments, and we need to grow our game so we stay in front rather than allowing others to catch up," he said.
"I would like to thank the Board for their support and endorsement in giving me an extended contract through to the end of World Cup 2015.
"I am looking forward to not only the challenges that are coming this year, but right through to 2015. Having the opportunity to try and recapture the Webb Ellis Cup is something that I'm really excited by," Hansen added.
"Our focus as always will be on enhancing the All Blacks legacy. In doing that, it will be about not only winning Test matches today but also making sure we have the experience and personnel to win Test matches tomorrow and beyond.
"We also need to get our timing right when it comes to introducing more new faces into the team. In saying that, clearly it will make the next few years tougher than last year, but that's something we are looking forward to."
* Meanwhile, in other appointments, All Blacks Manager Darren Shand has also extended his contract with New Zealand Rugby through to World Cup 2015, while Tony Page has been appointed to the role of All Blacks Doctor, replacing Deb Robinson who stepped down earlier this year after six years in the job.
"I'm very happy to confirm that Darren is continuing in his role - he is a world-class manager - and he and Steve will now work on finalising the contracts for the rest of the All Blacks management team," Tew said.
"I also want to welcome Tony Page to the All Blacks management team. We are delighted to have someone of Tony's calibre join the team and he will bring considerable medical and specialist sports medicine experience to the role," he added.
The All Blacks management team for 2013:
Steve Hansen - Head Coach / Selector
Darren Shand - Manager
Gilbert Enoka - Assistant Manager
Ian Foster - Assistant Coach / Selector
Mike Cron - Forwards Coach
Brian "Aussie" McLean - Defence Coach
Mick Byrne - Skills Coach
Grant Fox - Selector
Dr Tony Page - Doctor
Peter Gallagher - Physiotherapist
George Duncan - Manual Therapist
Dr Nic Gill - Strength and Conditioning Coach
Alistair Rogers - Performance Analyst
Errol Collins - Logistics
Joe Locke - Media Manager
Katrina Darry - Nutritionist
Bianca Thiel - Executive Assistant