The All Blacks have retained the services of two key members of their coaching staff with assistant Ian Foster and scrum guru Mike Cron extending their contracts with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) until 2017.
Foster’s announcement comes a day after former England first-five Stuart Barnes urged the Rugby Football Union to go after the former Chiefs coach as a replacement for Stuart Lancaster.
But any chance of that appears over with Foster remaining in New Zealand until the British Lions tour in two years’ time at least.
“It’s been an honour and a privilege to have worked for the All Blacks over the last few years and to help the team achieve its goals, including winning the Rugby World Cup, and I look forward to getting stuck into next season after the summer break,” Foster said.
NZR chief executive Steve Tew paid tribute to Foster’s work with the All Blacks which has fashioned a stunning record of 49 wins, two draws and just three losses, in their 54 Tests since his appointment in 2012.
“Ian has provided outstanding coaching of the All Blacks over the last four years,” Tew said. “He has a calm yet forthright style which works well in the team and his strategic thinking and development of the All Blacks’ back play, which is his specialist area, has been exceptional. We look forward to his ongoing contribution over the next two years.”
It was speculated during the World Cup that Cron would step down after the tournament, but Tew confirmed he had also re-signed with NZR through to 2017.
Tew said: “Cronno has coached not only the All Blacks forwards, but many young forwards with distinction for many years now and he is widely recognised as one of the world’s best coaches. We are incredibly fortunate to have him continue with the All Blacks.”
After the loss of several senior players following the World Cup, the forwards coach is relishing the chance to bring through the new brigade.
“I’m really enjoying the environment and the next couple of years will be an exciting challenge for the coaching team as we look to identify talent and help develop them into world-class rugby players,” Cron said.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said keeping Foster and Cron on board was crucial as they build towards the Lions series.
“It’s great news for New Zealand Rugby and myself to have these two world-leading coaches sign back on with the All Blacks,” Hansen said. “They have both played a major part in making this team what it is. They understand the culture and what’s required in the test arena to make a team successful, and will be vital in making sure that we continue to grow our game in the years ahead.”
Tew said that while the bulk of the management team had recommitted to the national side, defence coach Wayne Smith had indicated he would take a year off from fulltime coaching.
All Blacks Performance Analyst Alistair Rogers is also taking up an assistant coaching role with the Blues.
The All Blacks have a busy test schedule in 2016, with Wales coming to New Zealand in June for the three-Test series followed by the Rugby Championship and the end of year tour to Europe.