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Steve Hansen to the Lions?

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Steve Hansen linked with British and Irish Lions job

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has been identified by The Times as a leading candidate to take the helm of the British and Irish Lions for their tour to South Africa in 2021.

Hansen makes up one quarter of The Times‘ four-man shortlist which also consists of England’s Eddie Jones, Ireland’s Joe Schmidt, and Wales and most recent Lions head coach Warren Gatland.

An announcement is expected to be made before this year’s World Cup about the appointment of the 2021 Lions coach, with the selected candidate to begin the role ahead of next year’s Six Nations.

For Hansen to be considered for the Lions role comes after a stellar tenure in charge of the All Blacks, taking over the reins from Sir Graham Henry in 2012 following an eight-year stint as his assistant.

Since then, he has guided the side to 85 wins from 96 test outings, leading them to a second successive World Cup title in 2015.

His time as New Zealand’s head coach will conclude after this year’s World Cup though, with the 59-year-old yet to announce what his career prospects entail from 2020 onwards.

“I haven’t thought about what I will do after the World Cup. It is such a great privilege to coach the All Blacks and I am focused on nothing more than the next 21 months as we have an incredible opportunity to do something that no other team has ever done before,” he said when announced he would step down from his position with the All Blacks last December.

Schmidt and Gatland will both follow Hansen into free agency after their World Cup campaigns with Ireland and Wales, while Jones signed a two-year contract extension with England last year which will see him remain in the UK until 2021 – the same year the Lions depart to South Africa.

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Steve Hansen linked with British and Irish Lions job