Opinion: Potential candidates to replace Scott Robertson as Crusaders coach in 2024

OPINION: Following NZ Rugby's unveiling of the next All Blacks coach Scott Robertson, the Crusaders have confirmed they will announce his replacement at a later date.

Robertson's contract was due to expire in 2023, with the six-time Super Rugby winner previously revealing this season would be his last.

After perhaps the worst-kept secret in rugby was finally aired, the Crusaders face the daunting prospect of replacing the irreplaceable.

They could well follow their trend of keeping appointments in-house, with Robertson (Canterbury) and previous coaches Todd Blackadder (Tasman) and Robbie Deans (Canterbury) having success at the national provincial level first.

Current Canterbury coach Marty Bourke is an option, but with just one season in charge, doesn't boast enough experience, despite leading them to the final in his debut season in 2022.

Another candidate could be Crusaders assistant coach Tamati Ellison, who has been at the Super Rugby outfit since 2021, after an illustrious playing career.

Scott Hansen.
Scott Hansen. Photo credit: Getty Images

But it's fellow assistant Scott Hansen who fits the bill most out of the current crop, having helped Canterbury and the Crusaders to titles.

Hansen joined the Crusaders in 2019, having previously worked with Robertson at Canterbury for two seasons from 2013.

His success there saw him assist the Canada national team, before stints as an assistant coach at Leicester Tigers and the Kobelco Steelers and Sunwolves in Japan.

After helping the Japan national team to the quarter-finals at the 2019 World Cup, Robertson brought Hansen back to Christchurch.

He was largely credited with masterminding the Crusaders' success in last year's Super Rugby Pacific final triumph over the Blues, with a focus on tactics and game-planning.

Aaron Mauger.
Aaron Mauger. Photo credit: Getty Images

If the Crusaders do decide the buck the trend and look elsewhere, club legend Aaron Mauger could be another worth keeping an eye on.

Mauger, like Hansen, served as an assistant at Canterbury and was part of the backroom staff that helped them win the 2013 NPC title.

The pair also worked together at English Premiership giants Leicester Tigers, where Mauger was head coach for two seasons.

After serving as assistant to Samoa in 2017, Mauger was hired as Highlanders coach in 2018, where held the role for two seasons.

He led them to two straight playoff appearances, before his contract wasn't renewed after a COVID-19-hit 2020.

He has since been the coach of Moana Pasifika, taking on the role for their inaugural season in 2022, where they finished bottom of the Super Rugby table with two wins.

Dave Rennie.
Dave Rennie. Photo credit: Getty Images

An even more adventurous shout could be former Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, after he was replaced by Eddie Jones in January.

The most experienced of the three candidates, Rennie has coached at NPC, Super Rugby, Pro14, and the international level.

Rennie led Wellington to an NPC title in his first year as coach in 1999, before stints as Hurricanes assistant and Manawatu boss.

He then coached the NZ U20 to three straight World Cup titles from 2008 to 2010, before joining the Chiefs in 2012.

In his debut season in charge, Rennie led the Chiefs to its first-ever Super Rugby title, becoming the first coach to ever do so.

Rennie backed up the success of 2012 with another title in 2013, before joining Glasgow in 2016 as head coach.

He took the Scottish giants to two-straight playoff appearances in the Pro14, including a final appearance in the 2018-2019 season.

Rennie left the role at the conclusion of the following season, before he was named the Wallabies coach in 2019.

Reece Labuschagne is a Newshub online sports producer