By NZ Herald

The All Blacks coaching role is a “poisoned chalice”.

At least that’s the view of former England international Ben Kay, as All Black fans patiently wait to find out who will lead the team as Steve Hansen’s successor.

New Zealand Rugby plan to announce the new coach next month with current assistant coach Ian Foster and Crusaders coach Scott Robertson the frontrunners.

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The likes of Warren Gatland, Jamie Joseph, Tony Brown and Dave Rennie, who were all part of the initial group of 26 coaches invited to apply, have all declined or pulled out of the race.

In a column for The Times, Kay said their rejection to what should be one of the “most sought-after jobs” indicates the unappealing challenge of the role.

“There are parallels between Steve Hansen’s departure from the All Blacks after 15 years as an assistant and head coach and the time Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United. Taking over from Hansen after more than a decade of unparalleled All Blacks dominance is a poisoned chalice,” Kay, who played for the British and Irish Lions in 2005, wrote.

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“The squad Ferguson left behind at Old Trafford was nowhere near as strong as it had been and things began to spiral as successive managers tried and failed to rebuild the team. The same challenge awaits Hansen’s successor. New Zealand are still a fine team but they are not as strong as they were four years ago.”

Kay added that Joseph and Brown opting to remain in Japan suggested the pair know the opportunity to coach the All Blacks may present itself again and at a “more appealing time”.

Questioning Foster’s ability to evolve, Kay said the All Blacks could benefit more from Robertson’s unorthodox approach should he be appointed as the new head coach.

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“Foster is the establishment figure. He would provide continuity within the All Blacks set-up, but how closely tied is he to the previous regime? Can he evolve? How much do New Zealand need to start again?” Kay wrote.

“All the Crusaders people love Scott Robertson but he does things slightly differently. He brands each season differently; one season it could be boxing; another season it could be NFL. One year he built his narrative around Melbourne Storm, the NRL team, and brought players in to speak to the squad. He is a very creative coach and would be more of a maverick appointment.”

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission.

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