Mike Cron gives Steve Hansen news he wants
Forwards coach Mike Cron is set to deliver an early Christmas parcel to All Blacks boss Steve Hansen by re-committing through to the 2015 World Cup.
His declaration is a big deal for the All Blacks after the popular ex-policeman seriously considered retiring and asked for extra time to assess his future following the recent northern hemisphere tour.
The All Blacks' future plans were topics of interest when the New Zealand Rugby Union board held their final meeting of the year yesterday.
Hansen, not surprisingly, was eager to have Cron back after they made history in the professional era by sweeping through the rugby calendar unbeaten.
The grind of travelling and time away from home resulted in Cron retiring after the All Blacks won the 2011 World Cup but Hansen later convinced him to return to his revamped coaching team as his forwards coach.
Cron, who was first invited to join the All Blacks management team by previous coach Graham Henry in 2004, is considered an integral part of the coaching crew by the players.
He is the All Blacks most experienced staff member along with Hansen and manager Darren Shand. Both re-signed with the NZRU through to 2015 earlier this year.
Hansen is expected to keep the other members of his off-field team together, meaning fellow assistants Ian Foster (back play and attack) and Aussie McLean (defence) should also continue through to the World Cup. Skills coach Mick Byrne, who is also on the Blues coaching staff, is also highly-rated by Hansen.
Cron's knowledge about scrummaging is widely acknowledged as top-notch and during tours he often invites his front-rowers into his hotel room to share a few yarns over a game of backgammon.
He can also be innovative and past ideas and have included using quirky instruments such as boxing gloves, bras with chains attached, golf tees and harnesses during scrummaging sessions.
Despite the New Zealanders' fine record this year Hansen acknowledges his team must keep evolving and Cron will continue to play a major role in these plans.
Improvements can still be made in the scrum, an area where the All Blacks have struggled since the IRB's latest tinkering with the engagement laws.
Rolling mauls and drives off lineouts are also areas they need to strengthen before they face the northern hemisphere's heavy artillery in the 2015 World Cup in England and Wales.
Cron, who has been a resource coach with the NZRU since 2004, had previously been Henry's scrum coach. Hansen, who was re-appointed through to the World Cup in April, had been the forwards coach under Henry.
- Fairfax Media
Which three first-fives would you have taken on the All Blacks' northern tour?