Sir Steve Hansen warns New Zealand Rugby over Scott Robertson after Ian Foster ‘treatment’

Colin Newboult
Steve Hansen and Ian Foster while coaching the All Blacks.

Steve Hansen and Ian Foster while coaching the All Blacks.

All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup winner Sir Steve Hansen hopes that New Zealand Rugby, the fans and media give more backing to Scott Robertson than they did Ian Foster.

Robertson has taken over from the 58-year-old, who guided the national team to the Rugby World Cup final in October.

The deal was announced way back in March, which irked Foster given that it could have affected their preparations for the global tournament.

NZR’s reasoning

NZR decided to go early in an attempt to end speculation over the head coach position heading into the World Cup, but it was considered by some onlookers as a slight on Foster.

He was almost sacked in 2022 following a poor run of form but, after receiving the backing of the players, the governing body decided to keep him on board.

However, they were always likely to make a change for the next four-year cycle, irrespective of the All Blacks’ performance at the World Cup, and they did not want to miss out on Robertson, who had been linked to several other jobs.

There is plenty of excitement over the appointment of the Crusaders legend after his success in Super Rugby, but that also adds to the pressure.

Hansen has therefore sounded a warning to NZR, as well as the fans and New Zealand media, urging them to back the 49-year-old should he endure a rough spell in charge.

“It’s going to be interesting because all those people treated him like that because they wanted the guy that’s in there now in Scott,” he told The Platform.

“I just hope they don’t turn on Scott if things don’t go well for Scott. They’ve got to make sure they treat him better than they treated Fozzy.”

Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks coaches reunited as Ian Foster confirms future

Getting the band back together

It was announced on Tuesday that Foster would team up with Hansen at Toyota Verblitz as the former All Blacks coaches reunited.

Foster was an assistant under Hansen at the All Blacks from 2012 and 2019 before he assumed command of the national team in 2020.

Although the 58-year-old’s time in charge was mixed and his departure dealt with poorly, Hansen does not believe that the experience scarred him enough to give up coaching.

“He’s always said, and I’ve always known, that he’s a lifetime coach who loves it, so he was always going to get back into it,” he said.

“I don’t think he had any hesitation about wanting to get back into coaching. How he was treated was how he was treated, he’s dealt with that with unbelievable class and got on with that.

“How he was treated was not his problem, the people that have to face that are the people that treated him like that.”

In fact, negotiations were remarkably short – two days according to Hansen – which suggests that Foster is champing at the bit to get back involved.

“To be fair, the opportunity arose out of the blue when Ben (current Toyota head coach Ben Herring) decided he didn’t want to continue,” he said.

“I happened to be talking to Foz and asked if he was interested. He was and then it was a matter of getting the club and his agent together, and it didn’t take long from there.”

Excitement, energy and coaching skills

Hansen is therefore looking forward to working with Foster once again, although it has come as a slight surprise to the 64-year-old.

“I’m so excited about the opportunity that’s going to bring. Getting the old partnership back and knowing that we understand each other really well, and both of us will be coaching, so it will exciting,” he said.

“I really enjoyed my time coaching with him. Did I think I would be coaching with him again? Probably not, but I would always relish the opportunity.

“I thought it was only going to be really around World XVs or Barbarian teams, or something like that, but to have the opportunity to have him up here with us is really exciting.

“We’ve done some good work at the club to change a lot of things and he’s coming in at a really good time.

“His energy, his eyes, his excitement, his coaching skills will really help us go to that next step.”

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