Rugby: Ian Foster confirmed as new All Blacks head coach

NZ Rugby has announced Ian Foster as the new head coach of the All Blacks on a two-year deal.

Foster will step up from his role as an assistant to take the top job vacated by Steve Hansen, after this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The 54-year-old has won the race for the role ahead of Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, who was the next closest contender, once Jamie Joseph re-signed with Japan and Dave Rennie commited to the Wallabies.

"I feel truly privileged and honoured to be given this opportunity," Foster told "I can’t wait to lead the team into the next chapter of what is a remarkable legacy.

"I'm incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the All Blacks over the last eight years, and I’m excited and energised by a new coaching team who will join me.

"It's incredibly humbling to be appointed to the job, and I have a strong desire to serve the jersey well and represent New Zealand to the best of my ability."

Foster had served as an assistant to Hansen since 2012, after a seven-year spell as head coach of Super Rugby's Chiefs.

His primary responsibility with the All Blacks was as attack coach and selector, alongside Hansen and All Blacks great Grant Fox.

Foster is unwilling to reveal his four new assistants, but there are suggestions he'll be joined by John Plumtree, Brad Mooar, and Greg Feek, as well as Scott McLeod.

NZ Rugby chairman Brent Impey said Foster had emerged as the leading option in essentially a two-horse race with Robertson, after an exhaustive and highly competitive selection process.

"The interview process was extensive and really difficult," Impey noted. "[Foster] brings world-class international experience to the role, an incredibly strong coaching team and we think he’ll do an outstanding job."

While full of praise for Foster, incoming NZR chief executive Mark Robinson made special mention of Robertson's "impressive" bid for the position and ear-marked him as one for the future.

"He was a very impressive candidate and these decisions are never easy," said Robinson. "We know 'Razor' is an outstanding coach and I have no doubt he’ll have a big future in our game at international level.

"[Ian] has pulled together a very strong team and he is an outstanding person in his own right, with a high-quality set of values.

"He is committed to stamping his own mark on the team, and it’s clear that he and his coaching team want to bring a new and fresh energy into the All Blacks environment."