Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen wants to help create a long-term winning culture at the Canterbury Bulldogs after signing on as a mentor for new coach Trent Barrett.
The appointment of Hansen is a massive coup for the Bulldogs, who are going on a recruiting spree to turn around recent seasons of poor results including this year's second-last finish.
At the helm of New Zealand from 2012, Hansen steered the All Blacks to the 2015 World Cup title and stepped down following last year's tournament in Japan where they bowed out in the semi-finals.
Under his time as coach the All Blacks only lost 10 games from 107.
Barrett, who along with Craig Bellamy and Ivan Cleary, had spent time in the All Blacks camp, reached out the Hansen as part of his plans to change the culture at the Bulldogs.
"We've had many people come and visit the All Blacks and share time with us and that's been beneficial to both parties - Trent was one of those guys," Hansen told 1 NEWS at his Wanaka home.
"He approached me about three or four months ago and asked me if I'd be interested in helping him and we talked though a number of issues around it - Covid being one of those issues - and how it would work and eventually we agreed.
"The big announcement was yesterday and everyone's getting excited ... I think they understand what I'm doing is actually going to help coach coaches in a very similar role to what I have at [Japanese rugby union club] Toyota Verblitz.
"Really, it's about helping a mate out."
Currently based in New Zealand, Hansen said the practicalities of the role in the Covid-19 environment still had to be nutted out, while he also holds a position of director of rugby at Toyota Verblitz.
Hansen said he was excited to be involved in a new code, although he doesn't think it's as big a deal as some hard-nosed rugby union fans are making it out to be.
"I can understand people thinking that this is a massive switch but it's not really a switch of codes," Hansen told 1 NEWS.
"Yes, the people I'm going to help are a rugby league club but what I'm going to do is to help mentor a coach and the environment.
"It's a high performance environment and that's what I've been working in for the last 19 years both at Wales and back here with the All Blacks.
"So I don't see it really as a switch - it's just a different game."
- Additional reporting by AAP