After weeks of anticipation, Ian Foster was confirmed on Wednesday as the man to succeed Steve Hansen as All Blacks head coach.
In a two-horse race with Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, New Zealand Rugby opted to appoint from within, as Foster had been Hansen’s assistant for the past eight years. Hansen himself worked under Graham Henry, and took over after the 2011 Rugby World Cup triumph.
Having won the past three Super Rugby titles, Robertson looked to be the favourite to land the prized job, and there have been plenty of surprised faces at the decision.
However, one thing that some have picked up on is the length of Foster’s contract only being two years. This has led to some speculation, particularly regarding incoming Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland.
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The former Waikato hooker has returned to New Zealand to coach after twelve years in charge of Wales. However, he is to take charge of his third British and Irish Lions tour in 2021 against the world champions South Africa. This is a commitment that he would not back out of, which therefore ruled him out of the All Blacks job.
Well, 2 years as they wait for Warren Gatland ??. At least The Crusaders get to keep Razor https://t.co/WUQq5J969G
— Kevin Gisore (@KevenGisore) December 11, 2019
Great news for anyone keen to see Warren Gatland appointed as All Blacks coach after the next Lions tour. https://t.co/xlgD2iSrqp
— Winston Aldworth (@WinstonAldworth) December 11, 2019
So it looks like Warren Gatland will be the All Blacks head coach in the 2023 world cup.
— Mathew (@MatNewton) December 11, 2019
While Gatland will still be with the Chiefs when 2021 rolls around, his time with the Lions will be over, and that is conveniently the point when Foster’s contract expires. This obviously provides an opportunity for Gatland to take over the All Blacks for the two years leading up to the 2023 RWC in France.
2 years…I cant help but feel NZR are still holding onto hope for Warren Gatland. 2 years takes him beyond the Lions tour, a role he'd never give up for anyone. 2022 would see him back with the Chiefs and probably open for promotion ? #AllBlacks
— Rugby Globe (@Rugby_Globe) December 11, 2019
2 yr contract.
Smacks of stop gap.. either that or gives the impression that the NZRU arent too sure if he's the right man long term.!!
— ?Phil; Facetious Git.. Tongue deep in cheek. (@A_Guy_on_Here) December 11, 2019
Kiwi fans not happy… the responses to this tweet?
2 year deal is interesting though considering Gatland & Schmidt's future availability, along with some others… https://t.co/FZ44XokLbi
— Jonathan Fitzpatrick (@JFitzpatrick92) December 11, 2019
Of course, this would be dependent on the success that Foster has as a coach, as it would be nonsensical to replace him if he looks to be the right man for the job, but it looks like NZR are covering all bases here.
All that being said, Foster’s contract mirrors what Steve Hansen signed on for when he came on board in 2012. Hansen was originally contracted until the end of 2013 but extended his contract after a successful start to his tenure.
Although some have described the 54-year-old as a stop-gap, it is more than likely that he will be a successful head coach, particularly as he has been part of the All Blacks during a golden era, and therefore can provide a seamless transition from Hansen’s spell and maintain many of his successful structures. However, this does mean the door is not shut on Gatland either.
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