Hansen has been announced as Graham Henry’s successor at a media conference in Wellington this afternoon after the New Zealand Rugby Union board met earlier today to consider the appointment.
Hansen was the only candidate recommended by an appointments panel to go through to a full interview with the board, which unanimously voted for him.
The appoint is for two years and Hansen said he will bring a change of structure to the role. He will appoint just one assistant coach, which is a departure from the last eight years where both he and Wayne Smith were twin assistants alongside Henry.
The decision to appoint the Christchurch-based 52-year-old was widely expected following the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup success in October.
The former policeman has been an All Blacks assistant coach for the past eight years and was always going to be the frontunner to succeed Henry in the event that New Zealand won the World Cup.
Hansen described the appointment as “a great honour”. He said he was passionate about New Zealand rugby and would do his utmost to maintain the national team’s winning legacy.
“I feel humble and proud to be given the opportunity to lead the team into its next phase. My aim will be to leave the team in a better shape than how I found it and to enhance its legacy.”
Hansen has long been linked with former Chiefs coach Ian Foster and former Canterbury coach and close friend Aussie McLean, while current All Blacks kicking coach Mick Byrne has expressed his desire to move into a more senior role with the forwards.
Henry, Hansen and Smith, now in an assistant’s role with the Chiefs, guided the All Blacks together since replacing John Mitchell in 2004. They won the Rugby World Cup at the second try this year after tripping up in the quarterfinals in 2007.
France-based Vern Cotter, coach of Clermont, shaped as the strongest challenger to Hansen, though NZRU chief executive Steve Tew had previously spoken of the benefits of continuity, while Henry endorsed Hansen as his successor.
NZRU chairman Mike Eagle said Hansen was clearly the best candidate for the job and his promotion would make for a seamless transition.
“He is an outstanding coach and has been part of a hugely successful All Blacks team since becoming an assistant coach in 2004. He has huge respect and backing from the team and his peers and is the right man to now lead the team,” Eagle said.
Prior to joining the All Blacks in 2004, the former Canterbury mentor coached Wales for two years, succeeding Henry of all people.
In 2003, Wales lost every match in the Six Nations (for the first time in their history) and went on to record a streak of 11 consecutive test match defeats.