Steve Hansen will leave his role as New Zealand head coach with his record “unsurpassed”, according to All Blacks chairman Brent Impey.
Hansen announced on Thursday that his all-conquering reign in charge of New Zealand will end after the defence of their World Cup title in Japan next year.
The 59-year-old has coached New Zealand since 2012 and has been in the system for 16 years having been an assistant prior to replacing Graham Henry in the top job.
New Zealand have won 85 of his 96 Tests in charge and won the 2015 World Cup as well as the Rugby Championship in every year barring 2015.
"After being involved in the All Blacks for 16 years, I feel it's right for the team for me to stand down. I think change after the Rugby World Cup will bring a new outlook for the team and it'll be time for someone else to enhance the legacy of the All Blacks." - Steve Hansen. pic.twitter.com/cwfMpBmFKz— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) December 13, 2018
“On behalf of the New Zealand rugby board, I’d like to thank Steve for his enormous contribution to our national game. He’s hugely respected, clear in his views, and will leave the job as one of the greatest ever All Blacks coaches,” Impey said in a statement.
“His record is unsurpassed. The All Blacks currently hold all the major trophies we play for, he played a critical role in the back-to-back Rugby World Cup victories in 2011 and 2015, and we wish him and the team all the very best for next year’s campaign.
“Whatever happens next in Steve’s career, his place as a New Zealand rugby legend is guaranteed.”
Hansen’s decision could lead to Joe Schmidt taking over as New Zealand coach.
The 53-year-old Kiwi has built an Ireland side many believe could topple New Zealand in Japan, with a Test success in Dublin last month adding further weight to that theory.
He is to leave the Ireland job after the World Cup, like England coach Eddie Jones and Wales boss Warren Gatland will do also.
For Hansen, he wants to spend more time with his family.
“After being involved in the All Blacks for 16 years, I do feel it’s right for the team for me to stand down. I think change after the Rugby World Cup will bring a new outlook for the team and it’ll be time for someone else to enhance the legacy of the All Blacks,” he said.
“As only people who have done the job will understand, there are not only heavy demands on yourself, but also on your family. My family has given me unreserved love and support over the last 16 years and I feel it’s now time to make them the sole focus.”
Hansen said he was making the decision now to give his employers the best possible chance of finding a credible replacement.
“This is a critical process which shouldn’t be rushed and shouldn’t be made in the turbulent period that tends to follow a Rugby World Cup campaign,” he added.
Before joining the New Zealand set-up, Hansen coached Wales between 2002 and 2004, taking them to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2013.