Why Jamie Joseph should be the next ABs coach

Jamie Joseph.
Jamie Joseph.
Only in New Zealand.

It's a year out from the Rugby World Cup, and the next few weeks will be saturated with debate on who coaches the All Blacks after the tournament. Yahoo.

Steve Hansen, a bona fide legend, will apparently reveal his plans this week and (at the time of writing this) no one seems sure about what he will do.

My guess — a pure guess — is that he will stand down after 2019, and take on a high-profile New Zealand Rugby job, which in turn will influence the next All Black appointment.

The next bit isn't a guess.

Had Joe Schmidt not announced his pending retirement from coaching, the Irish supremo would have become the next All Black coach.

Kiwi Schmidt's record with Ireland and the way he goes about things meant he could not have been bypassed by the best team in the world.

His coaching is meticulous, and players - in a multi-cultural Irish team - respond. To ignore a man whose achievements with a moderate force like Ireland puts him in the genius zone would have been borderline negligent.

Would Schmidt have taken the All Blacks to a new level, or even emulated Hansen's amazing record?

Who knows, because all coaching appointments are part hunch. There is no such thing as a certain bet, and a coach who succeeds brilliantly in one place might not find that same success elsewhere.

Hansen's assistant, Ian Foster, is the favourite to take over on the succession plan theory, because NZR under the iron grip of Steve Tew like their own people.

But the succession theory is only a theory, and with so many top coaches heading overseas it would cut a lot of good ones out of contention in years to come.

Schmidt, who is stepping back from coaching after 2019 for a compelling family health reason, may well come back into the All Black frame.

Tew himself, eschewing the succession impression, left the door wide open last week, saying NZR hoped Schmidt's break is "not too long".

Even if the World Cup is won again, appointing Foster would be a surprisingly large risk considering the success he has been part of.

He doesn't have a great head coaching record, never won a title with the Chiefs where his career ended in decline seven years ago, seems — from a distance — to be assistant coaching material, and lacks the perspective an overseas role would have given him.

Then again, he will be a vastly different coach in a vastly different game to the 2011 model.

If Tew believes Schmidt may become available, maybe Hansen will stay on for a year or two, to keep the engine hot and the seat warm.

For what it's worth, if Schmidt remains unavailable I'd promote Jamie Joseph as the next All Black coach.

Joseph hung in during tough times at the Highlanders, leading what should be the weakest New Zealand franchise to unprecedented success — a title.

He has the head coach x-factor, southern sensibilities, and his playing style marked the All Black loosie down as someone who will demand a tough, physical attitude. He's also put himself in a place where he can get a wider perspective, in tough coaching jobs at the Sunwolves and Japan.

For whatever reason, I like Jamie Joseph - an outlier since shifting to Japan - as a bolter.

Sometimes you can't totally explain these things. Maybe there is a subconscious desire for someone outside of the current and claustrophobic system, who would be — as much as is possible — their own man.

As a significant bonus, it would be a great and overdue moment for Joseph (Ngāti Maniapoto, Rangitāne, Ngāti Rārua) - with Maori whakapapa and a former Maori All Blacks coach - to take charge of the All Blacks.

As for Hansen, does he really need to make an announcement right now? But if it's time to start nailing colours to the mast, Joseph is my man, based on reasonable evidence and a few impressions.

Oh for those hunches. I had one many years ago that Hansen would be a dud. He is, instead, the best All Blacks coach of all time.

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