Rugby World Cup Final: Steve Hansen plans to bow out before New Zealand's World Cup treble bid
The All Blacks will challenge for a third straight world title in Japan in 2019 under new leadership if Steve Hansen obeys his "gut instinct" and calls it a day when his contract expires in two years' time.
Hansen said yesterday that he was unlikely to seek a fresh deal, adding that he would not be interested in coaching any other international team.
"You only get 10 years for murder back home," the one-time police officer commented after a lengthy celebration of his side's 34-17 victory over the Wallabies at Twickenham.
Then, speaking more seriously, he added: "What I'm saying is that I don't know if staying on would be right for the team. If it's not right, I wouldn't want to do it. That's a guiding principle. It's team first, individual second.
"This is the best job in the world as far as I'm concerned, so I'd love to coach the All Blacks until the day I die. But is that right? I wouldn't have thought so. We'll look at it when we get to the end of 2017, but while I'm not saying 'no', I'm certainly not saying 'yes' either."
Should Hansen walk away after the British and Irish Lions tour and the subsequent Rugby Championship, he could name his price anywhere in the union-playing world.
If he chose to do so, it would not be as part of a Test set-up. "Now I've coached the All Blacks, I couldn't coach against them," he said. "Doing this job doesn't automatically take everyone out of the market, but it's an individual thing and I just couldn't do it. This is the best team for me to coach because I'm a New Zealander."
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw who has yet to confirm his retirement from the sport, outlined the role Hansen has played in shaping New Zealand into the most successful team in World Cup history by being crowned champions for a third time.
"When we won in 2011, Steve put a full stop on it. He inspired the belief and desire that we could do something special now, while doing everything right along the way," McCaw said.
"Four years ago when he said we wanted to be number one until the next World Cup and win it again, you sort of go 'jeepers, you're thinking a long way out'.
"But his belief rubbed off on everyone. Steve never let complacency slip in. He brought in new players with energy and had faith that they would do the job."
New Zealand are to lose the leadership core of their team and their entire midfield with McCaw, Carter, Nonu and Smith almost certainly having played their final internationals.
"We didn't get too hung up on it being anyone's last game because it's more about enjoying the moment, you never get that back.
"Even now we're not thinking about that, we're just enjoying the moment. It's great to be able to walk around with loose shoulders and a grin on your face," McCaw said.
"I've been really tough on myself in terms of not looking past this moment, but I'm looking forward to going home and not worrying about things.
"We have a bit of time to do whatever. That's exciting and that's the reward for getting the job done. If we hadn't won, we'd be going home with an itch there that couldn't be scratched."