Rugby: Incoming Hurricanes coach Clark Laidlaw open to helping All Blacks Sevens in Olympics build-up

While he's officially stepped down from his role with the All Blacks Sevens, incoming Hurricanes head coach Clark Laidlaw is still open to helping out his former charges, as they build towards the Paris Olympics in 2024.

On Tuesday, Laidlaw, 45, was confirmed as the man to replace Jason Holland at the helm of the Hurricanes - who are understood to have beaten more than one rival franchise to secure his signature.

Clark Laidlaw and Sam Dickson.
Clark Laidlaw and Sam Dickson. Photo credit: Photosport

However, Laidlaw's switch does leave the NZ men's side without a head coach, with just under 14 months until the Olympics, which is considered the format's pinnacle event.

After securing a silver medal at the last Olympics in Tokyo, Laidlaw has also led the All Blacks Sevens to World Cup silver and Commonwealth Games bronze in 2022.

He'll begin his transition into a 15s coach with New Zealand's U20 side, before taking charge of the Hurricanes next year.

But while time is ticking for the All Blacks Sevens to replace him at the helm, Laidlaw says he is always ready and willing to help his former side out where and when available.

"We're not fully sure," said Laidlaw. "My job - once we've finished with the U20s and had a little break - will be to be head coach of the Hurricanes.

"If the team needs or wants support behind the scenes, if the coaches need an ear to listen to them and bounce ideas, I'll always be there for that team.

"It's such a special team, that if they need any advice or any help, I'm more than willing.

Clark Laidlaw.
Clark Laidlaw. Photo credit: Photosport

"I'm just looking forward to getting stuck into the Hurricanes."

Laidlaw leaves the All Blacks Sevens after a 2023 World Series title, winning five tournaments to lift the trophy for a record 14th time.

While it would have been ideal for Laidlaw to remain with the team to complete the Olympic cycle, he said the opportunity to replace All Blacks-bound Holland was too good to turn down.

"In coaching, you're never sure. Sometimes you get moved on when you don't want to, and sometimes you have to move on when the timing's not perfect.

"I just feel like the [All Blacks] Sevens are in such a great space, both with the players and the staff behind the scenes. We've had an extremely successful 18 months around settling the team after the last Olympics.

"That makes me really confident the team can go and succeed next year, as well as me having the opportunity to come here."

Laidlaw also expressed his gratitude towards the All Blacks Sevens and the growth it allowed him - both as a coach and a human being.

Taking the role in 2017, the Sevens role was his first head coaching role, which has opened the door for him to return to the Hurricanes after serving as an assistant coach to Chris Boyd.

"It's probably changed my life," he added. "The way the team operates, the relationships we've built, the Pacific culture and the Maori culture has opened my eyes to a deeper connection in what true belonging can look like.

"It's made me a better coach, a better dad and husband. It was a tough decision, but I think it was the right one for me and my family."