Super Rugby Pacific: Next All Blacks coach Scott Robertson confident franchises can replace his NZ assistants

Despite raiding Super Rugby Pacific to fill out his national team staff, All Blacks coach-in-waiting Scott Robertson believes the NZ franchises can bounce back from the defections.

Robertson has confirmed four assistant coaches to join him, when he takes the reins of the New Zealand side next year, replacing incumbent Ian Foster after the Rugby World Cup.

The line-up holds few surprises, with Blues coach Leon MacDonald, Hurricanes coach Jason Holland and Crusaders assistant Scott Hansen joining Jason Ryan, who was added to the current staff last year.

While Robertson has managed to recruit the help he wanted, he leaves three Super Rugby teams scrambling to fill head coach vacancies for 2024.

Perhaps the worst hit are the Crusaders, who lose Robertson himself and a potential replacement in Hansen.

"That's a nervous laugh," responded Robertson, when quizzed about his relationship with Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge. "Scott Hansen is an incredible coach and for two of us to leave at the same time is a challenge, along with Jason last year.

"There's some good men, but they'll find somebody else to take over a great organisation."

The Blues have already missed out on recruiting former Chiefs and Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who seems head to Japan, after losing the Australian job in January.

NZ Rugby has appointed Robertson - and his assistants - sooner than usual to ensure it has early call on the best coaching talent available, and that imperative applies down the coaching pathway to Super Rugby.

"They've got time, that's the great thing about going a little bit earlier," said Robertson. "Now they know and every organisation is always looking at who's next in their succession plan.

"I'm sure someone will step up. In 2017, when the Crusaders took a punt on me, they didn't know what they were getting.

"I'm sure there will be other examples of young, great coaches coming through our system to take those opportunities."

NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson insists the newly appointed All Blacks coaching staff shows the pathway exists through provincial and professional rugby into the national team.

Leon MacDonald in action for the Blues
Leon MacDonald in action for the Blues. Photo credit: Photosport

"We understand [Super Rugby franchises] have a lot of work to do and we'll be right there to support them, through our high performance and contracting teams," he said. "That's a really important next step in this, as well."

Robinson admits he would prefer to see local coaches have the opportunity at higher honours than recruit offshore, although foreign assistants have served NZ franchises previously.

"As it relates to players and coaches, we have a pretty strong record of backing people within our own context, but the world is changing, as we've seen, so we need to think a bit more laterally about that.

"We want great coaches in our environments and we know that's what players value really highly, so we want to make sure we get the best possible. We'll get to work with the CEOs and high performance people in those clubs as soon as possible."

Meanwhile, Robertson admits his team will continue to compete fiercely for bragging rights from this year's Super Rugby Pacific, although neither MacDonald nor Holland have yet won a championship in their own right, while Robertson already has six.

"We're all competitive," he grinned. "Everyone wants to hold that trophy up, it's a hell of a competition and it'll be tightly fought, but we'll still have a cup of tea before and a beer after, no doubt."

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