The foregone conclusion has been made official - Steve Hansen is the new All Blacks coach.
Hansen was named as Graham Henry's successor at a media conference in Wellington this afternoon after the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) board met to consider the appointment.
The decision to appoint the Christchurch-based 52-year-old was widely expected after the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup success in October.
The former policeman has been an All Blacks assistant coach for the past eight years and was always going to be the frontunner to succeed Henry in the event that New Zealand won the World Cup.
Hansen has long been linked with former Chiefs coach Ian Foster and former Canterbury coach and close friend Aussie McLean, while current All Blacks kicking coach Mick Byrne has expressed his desire to move into a more senior role with the forwards.
Henry, Hansen and Wayne Smith, now in an assistant's role with the Chiefs, guided the All Blacks for eight years and won the World Cup at the second try this year after tripping up in the quarterfinals in 2007.
France-based Vern Cotter, coach of Clermont, shaped as the strongest challenger to Hansen, although NZRU chief executive Steve Tew had previously spoken of the benefits of continuity, while Henry endorsed Hansen as his successor.
Before joining the All Blacks in 2004, the former Canterbury mentor coached Wales for two years, succeeding Henry.
In 2003, Wales lost every match in the Six Nations, for the first time in their history, and went on to record a streak of 11 consecutive test defeats.
Hansen has not always enjoyed a good relationship with the media, and he has made efforts to improve his public image, having sought advice from former TVNZ boss Ian Fraser.
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