Ian Foster named All Blacks coach

Ian Foster has been named the new All Blacks coach, heading off Scott Robertson for the top job.

The 54-year-old replaces Steve Hansen, who stepped down after this year's World Cup.

After eight years as Hansen's assistant, Foster has been appointed on a two-year contract as his successor.

“I feel truly privileged and honoured to be given this opportunity and I can’t wait to lead the team into the next chapter of what is a remarkable legacy,” Foster said in a statement.

His four-person coaching team had yet to be confirmed, but 1 NEWS understands the likes of John Plumtree, Brad Mooar and Greg Feek are likely to join him, as well as Scott McLeod and David Hill, who are already in the All Blacks set-up.

"Unfortunately I can't tell you who they are just yet because we've got some contractual issues to work through and a few phone calls to make," Foster said. "There's a bit of experience, but also quite a bit of youth in the group coming in."

NZR chairman Brent Impey said he couldn't confirm the full make-up of the coaching team today, but he's delighted with the quality they bring.

"They have a wide range of coaching experiences and are a diverse group of thinkers," he said.

Foster always seemed the preferred candidate, and some rival candidates were also deterred by what they saw as a pre-determined decision.

Some leading candidates, including Dave Rennie, who has since been appointed as Australia head coach, and Japan coach Jamie Joseph, chose not to seek the All Blacks position because of the timing. Because New Zealand Rugby waited until Hansen left before beginning to consider his replacement, Rennie and Joseph opted for the security of jobs already offered them.

Former Wales coach Warren Gatland, who will coach the Hamilton-based Chiefs in Super Rugby from next year, also chose not to apply because of his commitment to coach the British and Irish Lions in South Africa in 2021.

New Zealand Rugby sees the appointment of Foster as providing continuity with the Hansen era, during which the All Blacks won almost 88 percent of Test matches.

Many fans believe Hansen's departure offered New Zealand the chance to refresh the team under an entirely new coach — not part of the previous regime.

While acknowledging Foster's sound record as an assistant coach, critics have highlighted his poor record as a head coach.

He coached the Chiefs from 2004 to 2011, during which they reached the Super Rugby semifinals twice and the final once.

The Chiefs won the Super Rugby title, under Rennie, in each of the two years after Foster left.

The selection process narrowed to a two-person race between Foster and Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, who led the Crusaders to three straight Super Rugby titles.

“As someone who knows Razor well as a former teammate, he was a very impressive candidate and these decisions are never easy," said incoming NZR chief executive Mark Robinson.

"We know Razor is an outstanding coach and I have no doubt he’ll have a big future in our game at international level.”

AP contributed to this story.