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Incoming All Blacks assistant Jason Holland reflects on ‘special’ opportunity

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

For any rugby player or coach in New Zealand, contributing to the history of the All Blacks or Black Ferns is the “pinnacle.”

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The legacy of the coveted black jersey is steeped in both tradition and prestige, as it represents a small rugby-mad nation at the bottom of the world.

Earlier this week, New Zealand Rugby announced the four assistant coaches who would join Scott Robertson in the All Blacks after this year’s World Cup.

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Blues boss Leon MacDonald is one of them, and described his new opportunity with the All Blacks as a “dream job” earlier this week – saying it was the “pinnacle” of coaching in New Zealand.

Along with MacDonald, Crusaders assistant Scott Hansen and Hurricanes coach Jason Holland are joining the national setup.

Current All Black assistant Jason Ryan has retained his role as forwards coach.

One of MacDonald’s incoming colleagues at the All Blacks – who is currently coaching one of the New Zealand Super Rugby Pacific teams – echoed those comments in a recent interview.

Incoming assistant Jason Holland said that “without a doubt”, the opportunity to coach the All Blacks was a dream come true.

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“Without a doubt,” Holland said on The Platform. “I’m loving my time at the Canes but at the same time, the All Blacks is something you aspire to.

“Probably think it’s out of reach as a young fella.

“As a player you aspire to it and now as a coach, so it’s pretty special.”

Super Rugby Pacific head coaches MacDonald and Holland had been linked with positions under Scott Robertson for a fair amount of time.

Holland somewhat confirmed the rumours earlier this month, revealing that he’d “had a chat” with Scott Robertson.

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But after a successful stint in the capital, Holland will officially leave the Hurricanes at the end of the season to pursue this opportunity with the All Blacks.

But before then, it’s game on between the future colleagues.

“Before the end of Super footy, I can’t speak to the other guys but I’ll probably be keeping a few ideas in my head until the end of Super footy,” he added.

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“But the minute that ends come June, even though contracts start on the first of November, the way Razor operates, we’ll be chatting non-stop about footy, watching footy, talking about footy.

“Super job to do first and we’ll compete pretty hard for the next seven or eight weeks, then your mind will change to really again which is we won’t want to knock off from rugby for long.”

Following their bye week, the Hurricanes will look to return to winning ways when they host the Brumbies on Friday night at Sky Stadium.

The Brumbies are currently second on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder, and will be eager to make a statement against their New Zealand opposition.

“We had a bye week last week so the boys had a bit of a freshen up last week.

“It’s a massive game.

“We’ve been really studying really why we’re not quite getting over the line in those big games, we’ve lost two big games with the Blues and the Chiefs.

“Brumbies are now second on the table and are a pretty good side so it’s a massive night for us.

“I think we’re in a good place to perform well.”

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Jon 2 hours ago
Sam Cane was unfairly cast in Richie McCaw's shadow for too long

> McCaw’s durability and sustained excellence were unique, but we seemed to believe his successors were cut from the same cloth. It’s easy to forget McCaw was just as heavily critiqued for the last two years of his career. The only real difference was his captaining criticisms and his playing criticisms happened at different times, where Cane was criticized for a few things in both areas for all of his last 4 years. This was also heavily influenced by another McCaw esque presence, in Ardie Savea, being in the team and pushed out of his original position. It could be said we essentially didn’t have the 3 prior years with Ardie as world player of the year because he was changing into this new role. I say “original” position as despite him never coming out and saying his desire is to perform his role from, that I know of, clearly as part of a partnership with Cane as 7, I don’t think this was because he really wanted Cane’s playing spot. I think it most likely that it comes down to poor All Black management that those sort of debates weren’t put to bed as being needless and irrelevant. It has been brought up many times in past few months of discussions on articles here at RP, that early calls in WC cycles, to say pigeonhole an All Black team into being required to have a physical dynamo on defence at 7 (and ballplyaer at 8 etc) are detrimental. In the end we did not even come up against a team that threw large bodies at us relentlessly, like why we encountered in the 2019 WC semi final, at all in this last WC. Even then they couldn’t see the real weakness was defending against dynamic attacks (which we didn’t want to/couldn’t give 2019 England credit for) like the Twickenham Boks, and Irish and French sides (even 10 minutes of an English onslaught) that plagued our record and aura the last 4 years. It really is a folly that is the All Blacks own creation, and I think it pure luck, and that Cane was also such a quality All Black, that he was also became an integral part of stopping the side from getting run off the park. Not just rampaged. > The hushed tones, the nods of approval, the continued promotion of this nonsense that these men are somehow supernatural beings. I bet this author was one of those criticizing Cane for coming out and speaking his mind in defence of his team that year. Despite the apparent hypocrisy I agree with the sentiment, but I can only see our last captain as going down the same road his two prior captains, Read and McCaw, have gone. I am really for Cane becoming an extra member to each squad this year, June, RC, and November tours, and he is really someone I can see being able to come back into the role after 3 seasons in Japan. As we saw last year, we would have killed for someone of his quality to have been available rather than calling on someone like Blackadder. Just like the Boks did for 2023.

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