Ian Foster named All Blacks assistant coach

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 09:05 23/12/2011
Ian Foster
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ASSISTANT: Former Chiefs coach Ian Foster is the new assistant All Blacks coach.
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Grant Fox joins the All Blacks

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Former Waikato and Chiefs coach Ian Foster has been confirmed as Steve Hansen's assistant coach with the All Blacks with Aussie McLean hired as a defence coach and Grant Fox confirmed as a selector.

Hansen will name a technical skills coach in the New Year and that is expected to be Mick Byrne who has had a lengthy role with the world champion All Blacks.

Foster will be charged with looking after the backs.

Foster has been tight-lipped about his future since stepping down from the Chiefs after this year's Super Rugby campaign, a role he held since 2004.

But he resisted overseas offers to try to achieve his dream of being part of the All Blacks set-up.

He has long been part of the New Zealand Rugby Union's grooming process.

Foster was a co-coach of the now defunct Junior All Blacks from 2005 to 2007 and again in 2009, helping Colin Cooper guide that team to an unbeaten run.

In 2008 he joined the All Blacks coaching team as an observer on their Grand Slam tour of Britain and Ireland raising speculation that he was set to take over Wayne Smith's position with Smith being courted by Welsh clubs.

"This is a great honour to work with the All Blacks. I'm thankful for the faith that Steve Hansen and the board have shown in me," Foster said.

"I think the time I have had with the Chiefs and the Junior All Blacks has given me a taste of coaching at an international level, and this is a huge privilege for me as I look to fill Smithy's (Wayne Smith) big shoes," Foster added.

Fox, who played 46 tests for the All Blacks from 1985-1993, will step down from his current position on the Blues franchise board to take up the All Blacks selector job.

He will join Hansen and Foster on the All Blacks selection panel.

 "The chance to be involved with the All Blacks again - a team I care passionately about - was too good an opportunity to turn down and I was flattered when Steve called me and said he wanted me to be a selector," Fox said.

Fox added he was "excited by the challenges" the All Blacks faced. "They climbed their Everest this year and now the aim will be to maintain that success.  That's going to be the exciting thing for me."

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Hansen believes he has come up with a potent management team and is particularly delighted to have persuaded Fox to step up to his key role.

"Grant Fox is not only a legend of our game but also one of the most astute people. I wanted to find someone independent from the team who had the ability to break down a player's game, analyse their strengths and weaknesses and bring a fresh viewpoint to the selection process, and he's that man," Hansen said.

In selecting his coaching staff, Hansen said he firstly looked at what the team's needs were, the coaching expertise that was available, and those who could also complement his skillset.

"I then cross referenced that with coaches both here in New Zealand and overseas before finalising the coaching structure and personnel, which I believe is the best team to take the All Blacks forward."

McLean, who has experience with Canterbury, Wellington, the Hurricanes and most recently Samoa, is thrilled to be involved.

"This is a huge responsibility which I have been given and I'm honoured and humbled.  I'm excited at what lies ahead and ready for the challenge," McLean said.

THE BACK-UP BOYS TO HANSEN

Ian Foster: Chiefs coach from 2004 to 2011 taking the team to the Semifinals in his first year and the Final in 2009. He was also Co-Coach of the Junior All Blacks from 2005-2007, during which time the team won a two-Test Series against Australia A, the inaugural IRB Pacific Five Nations tournament and the expanded Pacific Nations Cup. He also co-coached an All Blacks trial team in 2005.  A former player, Foster is the most-capped Waikato player (148 games) and also played 28 games for the Chiefs.

Brian "Aussie" McLean: He has had more than 20 years coaching experience from club to international level, most recently as Assistant Coach of Samoa at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He lead the New Zealand Under 19 team to five world championships, including three victories, won titles with Canterbury in 2001 and 2004, provided analysis and coaching for the Crusaders (1999 - 2000) and was Assistant Coach with the Hurricanes (2006 - 2008).

Grant Fox: He played 189 matches for Auckland from 1982 - 1993 scoring 2,746 points, and 46 Tests for the All Blacks from 1985 - 1993. He was part of the 1987 Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks side and finished his All Blacks career with a then record 645 points.  He has remained prominent in rugby since his playing days: he runs ground signage company Carnegie Sports; has been on the coaching staff of Auckland and the Blues, as well as a Blues Board Member; and most recently was a highly-respected comments man on SKY Television.

- Fairfax Media

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