Rugby: Blues' Leon MacDonald plays down talk of All Blacks 'kingmaker' status as coaching race narrows

Blues coach Leon MacDonald wouldn't be drawn on the idea he'll have the decisive say on who the next All Blacks coach will be, despite his name being touted as the potential "kingmaker".

Incumbent Ian Foster's decision to not seek reappointment in his role of All Blacks head coach, and assistant Joe Schmidt's withdrawal has left an apparent two-horse race for the biggest job in world rugby.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, boasting six Super Rugby titles, looms as the outstanding local candidate to replace Foster.

Robertson faces stiff competition from abroad, with former Highlanders coach and current Japan boss Jamie Joseph also in the running. 

With both coaches having to present themselves on behalf of their entire team, including attack and defence coaches, MacDonald shapes as a key figure.

As a former teammate and now coaching rival, MacDonald was understood to have been part of Robertson's team in 2019, when he ultimately lost out on the job to Foster.

Earlier this month NZ Herald reported MacDonald and Joseph met for coffee in Dunedin before their Super Rugby campaign kicked off, fuelling speculation the current Blues coach could have a foot in both camps.

But when pressed over his role in potentially determining who the next All Blacks coach will be, MacDonald said he'll leave comments to the candidates themselves. 

"That's a decision that the head coaches can make and talk about when they're ready," MacDonald said.

"I'll let the head coaches make the comments around their teams."

At the start of March, New Zealand Rugby chair Dame Patsy Reddy gave the timeline of four to six weeks before the next All Blacks coach would be finalised.

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