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Next All Blacks coach a 'sensitive' issue for NZR with real risk of Robertson leaving

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Michael Bradley/AFP via Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson has explained the appointment of the next All Blacks head coach is a ‘sensitive issue’ as they live with the risk of losing Crusaders coach Scott Robertson.

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A fast-moving international market is adding pressure on retaining Robertson according to the NZR boss, who told Newshub that other countries are moving early to lock in coaches.

Robertson has made his desire to coach internationally clear, and after seven titles with the Crusaders in seven seasons, the champion coach may find it hard to turn down the chance to coach at the next level.

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“It’s very clear from speculation in the media that a lot of countries are moving early in this space and did also in the last cycle in 2019/20,” Robinson told Newshub.

“We have to understand the international market.”

After numerous performance reviews of current head coach Ian Foster, NZR decided to stand by their appointment after a change in assistants following the series loss to Ireland in July.

Foster was handed an extension in 2021 to see the All Blacks through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup but has been under pressure since after a number of unconvincing All Blacks performances.

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NZR are reluctant to pre-emptively announce a coach past 2023, preferring to wait until after the tournament which leaves Robertson at risk of being snapped up by another nation.

“We’ve seen this over the years,” Robinson told Newshub.

“There’s been a huge amount of talent leave our shores and coach in different places.

“We’ve said often that we value Scott incredibly highly – he’s a really strong coaching talent.

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“We’d love to be in a position to keep all our coaching talent in New Zealand, that’s not always possible, but we have regular conversations with our key talent in this space and will continue to do that.”

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The All Blacks finished the year with a run of six wins and a draw, going undefeated over the final seven games while locking in The Rugby Championship title for another year.

Robinson said there will be another review following the tour in order to be fully prepared for next year’s World Cup, while Foster revealed that the All Blacks squad will get together in January for the first time to break down the findings from the end-of-year tour.

“At the culmination of this tour, we’re getting into a review to see what needs to be tweaked and moved, but we’re looking at improvements over more recent times and we’re really looking at making sure the team is supporting as much as we can into the World Cup.”

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