Accomplished coach Wayne Smith has committed to the All Blacks for two more years.
Former All Blacks five-eighth Smith, whose coaching relationship with the national team stretches back to 1998, will take on an expanded role as an assistant to head coach Steve Hansen through to the end of 2017.
After stepping down as an assistant following New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup win, the 58-year-old stood aside and worked with the Chiefs, helping steer them to twin titles.
He rejoined the All Blacks last year and, in conjunction with Hansen and assistant coach Ian Foster, helped them defend their world crown.
Smith’s focus in 2015 was improving the All Blacks’ defence and turnover attack.
His brief for the next two years will be expanded role, working on skills coaching, in conjunction with Foster, following the departure of skills coach Mick Byrne. Mike Cron has been retained as scrum coach.
Smith said after initially deciding to take a break following the World Cup, conversations with Hansen over the summer break convinced him to continue.
“Steve presented a pretty compelling case, especially with the team facing the challenge of rebuilding and continuing its growth this year,” Smith said.
“It was a huge campaign last year and I was ready for a break, but I realised that it would be an exciting time to still to be involved. I love this team and want to do everything I can to help them succeed.”
Hansen says Smith will be a valuable asset in helping the All Blacks rebuild from the departure of several veteran players, including Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.