All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster confirms he's keen to step up to top job

Could All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen (left) be succeeded by Assistant Coach Ian Foster?
MARTIN HUNTER/GETTY IMAGES

Could All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen (left) be succeeded by Assistant Coach Ian Foster?

Ian Foster wants to succeed Steve Hansen as All Blacks head coach - and admits "conversations" have started with the right people in New Zealand Rugby to make it happen.

With Hansen having recently extended his deal with NZ Rugby through until after the 2019 World Cup, the succession plan can now be placed on the back-burner for a year or two yet.

But Hansen's current No 2, Foster, told Newstalk ZB on Saturday that he very much has ambitions to move into the top job once it is vacated and hopes he's seen as a contender to take the step up from his assistant role.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster has ambitions to do the top job one day.
GETTY IMAGES

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster has ambitions to do the top job one day.

Asked if he saw himself as an All Blacks head coach, Foster said: "I do from an ambition side, and I guess that's part of the whole thought process for me. I love what I do, I love this group, and it's just a matter of thinking out, first and foremost, I want to do the best job I can with the role I've got right now, and secondly what do I need to do to make sure I can present myself and put my hand up and say I want to be a head coach for the All Blacks.

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The All Blacks have been highly successful while Steve Hansen's been part of the coaching team.
MATTHEW IMPEY

The All Blacks have been highly successful while Steve Hansen's been part of the coaching team.

 

"That's part of the next conversation, really, to see what can I do in order do that. Do you need to go somewhere else to do that or can you do it by staying within? That's all part of a conversation that's a little bit ongoing at the moment."

Foster will have one important aspect in his favour when it comes time to assess the Hansen succession plan. While the likes of Dave Rennie on the Kiwi scene, and Joe Schmidt, Vern Cotter and Warren Gatland in the north, have solid runs on the board, the continuity factor favours the current top assistant.

Ian Foster (right) and Beauden Barrett chat on the sidelines.
ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT

Ian Foster (right) and Beauden Barrett chat on the sidelines.

The All Blacks have set the precedent in terms of promoting from within. Hansen served eight years as Graham Henry's No 2, and his step up to the top job has not only been seamless, but hugely successful.

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Under Hansen the All Blacks have lost just three of 59 tests, and there will be a temptation to  continue the theme of promoting from within after 2019.

"There's a strong logic to that and it's one that's worked well for the All Blacks," Foster added. "You learn a lot about what happens within the All Blacks by being there and dealing with the pressures.

"But to be the head coach of the All Blacks you've got to be the right person and the best person should get that job, whether it's from inside or outside. I understand that.

Steve Hansen will be Head Coach of the All Blacks until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
ANTHONY AU-YEUNG/GETTY IMAGES

Steve Hansen will be Head Coach of the All Blacks until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

"For me it's having a good think about where that sits. But right now I love what I do, and really it's important not to look too far into the future."

The next step for Foster will be to extend his current deal beyond 2017 which should be little more than a formality.

"I haven't thought too much about beyond 2017," Foster told Newstalk. "We've obviously got a lot this year and a lot next year. There have been a few conversations but I guess we will put a bit more thought into that shortly."

Foster, meanwhile, admitted to frustrations at the level of noise emanating from rugby circles over the Owen Franks incident in the second Bledisloe in Wellington.

The All Black prop was not cited by the independent Sanzar commissioner for making contact with his hand in Kane Douglas' eye area, prompting accusations that the world champions wear a "cloak of invisibility", among other things.

"Sometimes when you're winning and doing quite well you become an easy target for that sort of stuff," Foster said.

"We've just got to keep focusing on what we do and how we go about it. I guess the Owen Franks one was a classic case of that where everyone is crying foul, but there's a totally independent system.

"We've seen the camera angles and whilst there's definitely a hand on the face, that's all it was and everyone kind of knows that. So I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.

"It's been dealt with by independent people but for some reason others are using it as a chance to say we've been looked after which I think is pretty unfair."

The All Blacks reassemble in Hamilton on Sunday to prepare for next Saturday's Rugby Championship test against the Pumas.

Who do you think should succeed Steve Hansen as the All Blacks' Head Coach? Tell us in the comments below.

 - Sunday Star Times

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