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Top rugby agent revels All Blacks coaching race mess

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Ian Foster. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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By NZ Herald

A leading rugby agent has shed some light on the process undertaken by New Zealand Rugby to select the next All Blacks coach and why there were so few applicants.

Esportif global director Duncan Sandlant, whose clients include Dave Rennie and Vern Cotter, was critical of the process and said a number of his clients who were asked to apply didn’t because they saw it as nothing more than a box ticking exercise by NZ Rugby.

Speaking on Will Greenwood’s Podcast, Sandlant said he didn’t agree with inviting 26 coaches to apply for the role.

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“I think that some of that process, in my view, they [NZ Rugby] didn’t get right,” Sandlant said.

“I wouldn’t agree with inviting 26 [coaches] to apply because the reality is that’s it’s such a big job that there’s less than 10 and arguably less than five in the world who could actually do that job.

“That bit was wrong and I had a number of clients who were asked to apply who didn’t because they knew that it wasn’t really anything other than box ticking.”

Rennie and Cotter were among numerous strong candidates who refused to throw their hat into the ring for the All Blacks job, with Warren Gatland and Jamie Joseph also on that list.

Unlike New Zealand, the likes of Australia, Wales and Ireland all identified who they thought would be the best fit to coach their teams going forward early and worked hard to get their signatures. Rennie, who signed on to coach the Wallabies, was contacted by Rugby Australia months ago.

Sandlant said the New Zealand rugby landscape was a bit trickier to navigate.

“The tricky bit for them [NZ Rugby] was they had a situation with a new CEO, who doesn’t even start until January 1 but has obviously been involved in this process,” Sandlant told Will Greenwood’s Podcast.

“They also had a situation where I don’t think the New Zealand public would have accepted them rolling in Ian Foster without having gone through a proper process.

“So, I think they were caught between a rock and a hard place and that’s not what others have done.

“If you look at Australia, which I had a fair bit to do with, and Wales, which I had a bit to do with, and Ireland. They identified their guy, did their search, they did their homework, they found their guy and they went after him.

“I don’t think New Zealand could have done that because the bloke sitting underneath [Foster] was part of their environment.”

Foster was announced as the next All Blacks head coach earlier this week on a two-year deal.

This article first appeared on and was republished with permission.

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