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Deb Robinson quits role as All Blacks doctor

Last updated 05:00 18/02/2013
Deb Robinson
Peter Meecham/Fairfax Media
MOVING ON: Deb Robinson and Israel Dagg.

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Deb Robinson's unexpected resignation as All Blacks doctor is likely to be the only change to Steve Hansen's management team for 2013.

Robinson, who has ended her seven-year tenure with the All Blacks, will continue as Crusaders doctor and working at a private medical practice in Christchurch.

When contacted by The Press yesterday Robinson said the split was not acrimonious.

"There can definitely be no conspiracy theories around this. I have never liked the focus and that is why I don't want to comment publicly."

All Blacks manager Darren Shand was more forthcoming, stating he and head coach Hansen wanted her to continue.

"Steve and I were very disappointed to get Deb's resignation but the All Blacks environment can take its toll, with things like the travel, and last year she juggled roles with the All Blacks, Crusaders, her practice and as the NZRU's medical director," Shand said. "She is a very first-class person and a first-class doctor."

Shand and Robinson began working together at the Crusaders 2001.

Whoever replaces Robinson may not be a New Zealander, with Shand confirming the NZRU had also placed advertisements overseas and expected to fill the role next month.

Reviews are being held with the All Blacks' management team and although they have yet to be completed, the expectation is everyone, including the assistant coaches, will commit to this year's campaign.

The only uncertainty is whether specialist skills coach Mick Byrne, an assistant to Blues head coach John Kirwan, will join the All Blacks for the June tests against France.

Given that Byrne will return to the Blues after the test series, the coaches from the other four franchises may be uncomfortable with him being involved with their players before they return to their Super Rugby sides ahead of the playoffs.

"We are still trying to get some clarity on that," Shand said in reference to Byrne's availability. "We don't want to upset people . . . we just want to make sure it is right." Although Hansen was appointed to only a two-year contract on replacing Graham Henry after the 2011 World Cup, Shand, All Blacks manager since 2004, confirmed he had committed until the 2015 global tournament.

"The appeal of having the World Cup in London was strong for me. The opportunity to see the team play in some of the great stadiums was just too good to turn down," Shand, 47, said.

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"There is also the challenge of watching the All Blacks win a World Cup away from home for the first time." Although the World Cup is almost three years away, the All Blacks have started to plan for the 2015 tournament.

Shand hoped some lessons could be learned from the same period of the "last cycle" when the All Blacks lost five tests.

"That was not a good year for us. The decisions we have been asked to make in the first half of this year could have an impact on the World Cup - that means we have to keep an eye on this year and also 2015."

- The Press

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