All Blacks coach to quit in 2019?
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: All Black coach Steve Hansen has said he is likely to step down after the next World Cup in 2019.
"I think, without committing to it 100 percent, I can't see myself extending beyond the World Cup," the New Zealand Herald quoted Hansen as saying.
Hansen, who is preparing for a three-Test series with the British and Irish Lions, will attempt to win New Zealand's third straight title at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
By 2019, Hansen will have been with the All Blacks for 15 years after being assistant coach to Graham Henry from 2004 to 2011 before becoming head coach.
In that time, the All Blacks crashed out of the 2007 World Cup in the quarterfinals but recovered to be world champions in 2011 and 2015.
The 58-year-old former policeman had previously believed the head coach should be changed mid-way through a World Cup cycle, and indicated after the 2015 victory that he would step down this year.
However, he was convinced by the New Zealand Rugby Union to change his mind and his contract has been extended to 2019.
"I guess I am kind of arguing against myself," said Hansen, whose international career began with coaching Wales from 2002 to 2004.
"There is a lot of scrutiny and I will be forever thankful for the opportunity. But top of the pyramid is my family and it will probably be time to give them more."
Hansen gave no indication of who he would like to see as his successor.
"Then it comes down to do they (NZR) want continuity from a head coaching point of view, or do they want someone new. That will be up to the appointment panel. There are some good candidates," he said.
If the option is for continuity then current assistant coach Ian Foster, who earlier this week re-signed with NZR through to the Japan World Cup, would be the front-runner.
But if New Zealand looks outside the current set-up, leading contenders would include Ireland coach Joe Schmidt and Wales coach Warren Gatland, who will also lead the Lions in their tour of New Zealand.