Rugby: Former All Black Tony Brown unveiled as Springboks assistant, still craves NZ national team

Even as he launches a new stage in his coaching career with South Africa, former All Blacks first-five Tony Brown admits he has not given up hope of one day coaching the New Zealand national team.

Brown, 49, has taken up a role as Springboks attack coach under head coach 'Rassie' Erasmus, expressing his longheld admiration for South African rugby. 

Since ending his playing career - including 18 tests for the All Blacks, and stints with the Highlanders, Sharks and Stormers in Super Rugby - he has embarked on a successful coaching relationship with former Otago teammate Jamie Joseph.

The pair have worked together with Japan in recent years, but that loyalty saw Brown turn down an All Blacks role, when Ian Foster was reappointed head coach in 2019.

"When I got asked to coach the All Blacks five years ago, for me, it just didn't feel right," he said. "I obviously had a really good relationship with Jamie Joseph and if he had got the All Black coaching job, then 100 percent I would have been in with him.

"It just didn't feel right for me to coach with the other guys going for that job, so Jamie and I went back to Japan to coach Japan.

"Now he's not coaching any more and as soon as Rassie rang me, I said yes. I've got so much respect for what Rassie's done with South Africa, I'm just excited to be part of it, watch him operate, learn him and all the other coaches.

"One day, maybe I might coach the All Blacks - I don't know. I just want to be part of this coaching set-up and the Springboks over the next four years."

Erasmus guided the 'Boks to the 2019 World Cup crown and pulled the strings on last year's triumph as rugby director, before returning to his previous role for 2027. He has brought Brown and former Ireland international hooker Jerry Flannery into his coaching staff.

"Springboks have got a massively proud history, and for me to come in and try to be part of that and add to that is a huge honour," said Brown. "The way the Springboks play is always admired around the world.

"I've always been a big admirer of the way South African teams play, especially the Springboks. My favourite player was [former Springboks first-five] Henry Honibull and I probably tried to play the game that way as well.

"What the Springboks have done over the past two World Cups is massively impressive. The way they are able win big games and key moments in those games has been a pleasure to watch, and for me, it's just exciting to be part of that."

South Africa are due to open their 2024 account against Wales at London's Twickenham on June 22, followed by a two-test home series against Ireland - the current world No.1 and No.2 teams.