Rugby World Cup-winning head coach Steve Hansen’s future has been heavily speculated on for the last few years.
The 59-year-old confirmed last year that he will leave his role with the All Blacks after the RWC, having led them to triumph in 2015, as well as having been an assistant coach when the side won the 2011 edition of the tournament.
He has been linked with multiple roles in Europe, including the England and France head coaching positions, as well as roles off the field in New Zealand, and it looks as if a move north may materialise, albeit in a slightly different direction.
According to a report in Australia’s Daily Telegraph, Hansen is being lined up by Japanese Top League club Toyota Verblitz to be their new director of rugby.
Verblitz are no stranger to RWC-winning coaches, with the team currently guided by South African Jake White, but the success that White has enjoyed in several of his previous tenures has eluded him in Japan. Verblitz finished 4th in the Top League last season and have never won the competition in its current guise.
The club have already announced the signings of Kieran Read and Willie le Roux for next season, with those two stars of the game set to join the likes of Jason Jenkins and Gio Aplon in Toyota, as well as a number of prominent Japanese internationals such as Male Sa’u, Jamie Henry, Katia Shigeno and Kazuki Himeno.
Verblitz’s eagerness to invest heavily is not just aimed at the playing squad and the director of rugby position, either, with the Daily Telegraph report also stating that Simon Cron, an assistant coach at the Waratahs, is being targeted by the Japanese side.
Cron has got the Waratahs’ scrum success in Super Rugby up over 90% this season, as well as helping them to the fourth-most efficient lineout in the competition, and is highly-prized by a number of teams. He previously coached the Australian U20 team, before taking up his current role with the Waratahs.
If Verblitz can lure both Hansen and Cron to Toyota, alongside Read and le Roux on the pitch, it would represent yet another milestone in the growth and emergence of the Top League as a major player in world rugby.
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