NZ Rugby ask no less than 26 men to apply for All Blacks coach!

Japan's head coach Jamie Joseph (C) leads a training session at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Stadium in Tokyo on October 17, 2019, during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

Interestingly, Japan’s Jamie Joseph has apparently become red-hot property for the hurting All Blacks.

New Zealand Rugby bosses have ruled out a foreign coach for the All Blacks, revealing Wednesday they have asked 26 New Zealanders to apply including Jamie Joseph, who recently guided Japan to a historic first World Cup quarter-final.

Chairman Brent Impey said it was “a luxury” to have such coaching depth to call on after Steve Hansen stepped down at the end of the Rugby World Cup last weekend.

The new coaching team will be named before Christmas, but Joseph is yet to say whether he will seek the All Blacks post or remain with Japan.

“If you look at what we’ve seen with the World Cup, many of those best coaches come from (New Zealand),” Impey said.

“We believe we have covered the field in terms of those coaches who would have the skillset to do the job. This is a specialist job.”

The announcement came as Japan’s assistant coach Tony Brown revealed he would stay loyal to Joseph and had rejected approaches to join the coaching teams of two leading contenders, Ian Foster and Scott Robertson.

“I made a decision I’m going to stay with Jamie. If he applies for the All Blacks, I’m in. If he stays with Japan, I’m in,” Brown said.

Brown, a former All Blacks fly-half, has formed a close bond with Joseph since the pair rebuilt an ailing Highlanders into Super Rugby champions in 2015.

The pair elevated World Cup hosts Japan into a top-10 nation with victories over Ireland and Scotland in the just-concluded showpiece.

“It felt right to stick with Jamie and what we’ve been doing for the last eight years,” Brown said.

“It was a massive decision. One hundred per cent I want to coach the All Blacks tomorrow. But it didn’t feel right floating between three different coaching teams where I don’t get a say.

“Jamie puts together a great team and we’re all trying to make the team better. That’s what I like about Jamie… Everyone’s trying to make the team better.

“We both want to coach the All Blacks but we both want to do it at the right time. Whether the right time is now, I hope it is or it may not be, it may be in four years.”

Impey said the selection panel, which includes former World Cup-winning All Blacks coach Graham Henry, expected applicants to have their coaching support team ready when interviewed.

“Whether it’s your scrum coach, your backs coach, your defence coach, whatever it is we want to see a team going forward,” he said.

“Those 26 candidates know what we’ve been saying so we’re expecting that in the applications.

“This is high performance. You’ve got to get the best, the very, very best. Our standards are very high. We believe our team has to be the best it possibly can.”

Former Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, now with the Glasgow Warriors, said last week he had been asked to apply for the post.

Another prominent name believed to be in the mix is Warren Gatland, although the outgoing Wales coach has been told he could not be the All Blacks coach and also keep his contract as the 2021 British and Irish Lions coach.

Impey said former Ireland mentor Joe Schmidt was not available for consideration as he is taking a break from the game for family reasons.

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