Get while the gettin’ is good? The decision by Steve Hansen to move on after Rugby World Cup 2019 might be the strongest evidence to support the assertions of many experts that New Zealand is about to topple from the pinnacle it has enjoyed for so many years.
The All Blacks have won 88 Tests over the course of Hansen’s 96 Test tenure.
If he were Michael Cheika, everyone would want a thorough explanation for those eight losses, but Cheika lost more in 2018 alone than Hansen has in eight years, so Hansen can stroll across the ditch and take up a job in the NRL any time he wants such a job.
He could take over at Parramatta tomorrow. It might require one more day for South Sydney to hand him the reins.
Hansen has not revealed what he plans to do next, but he would be New Zealand’s next Prime Minister in a heartbeat, but for the fact that the job lacks the cachet of coach of the best rugby side in the world.
Hansen’s motive for making his decision public is to provide adequate time to find his replacement.
“This is a critical process which shouldn’t be rushed and shouldn’t be made in the turbulent period that tends to follow a Rugby World Cup campaign,” he said.
Hansen proved his worth as a successful lead of Canterbury and the Crusaders. He was heading up Wales when New Zealand got rid of John Mitchell.
It is time to turn attention toward the likely successor. That successor will have big boots to fill and someone who can last more than a year or two is difficult to imagine.
Joe Schmidt of Ireland would have been a viable candidate, but like Hansen, he has decided to call time after World Cup 2019.