Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has hinted his future in New Zealand could hinge not just on the timeline to his next shot at All Blacks coach, but the outcome of NZR’s current attempts to secure a huge deal from a US investor.
Robertson, who is off contract at the end of the year, told media today he and agent Warren Alcock are watching the developments of the possible sale of 15 per cent stake in NZR’s commercial rights to US investor Silver Lake which is valued at $465 million.
“The next couple of days is pretty big around the Silver Lake deal. We are getting close, but the Silver Lake deal is a pretty important part of re-signing,” Robertson said this morning.
“Like I’ve said before, with the agent, he's a pretty patient type, it's a long game for him just around what's happening with New Zealand Rugby, just making sure the timing is right.”
Robertson said even if the deal did get across the line – an outcome still not guaranteed with the Players’ Association going to mediation today after expressing concerns in a signed letter in January – he may still look elsewhere to advance his career.
“’[I’ll] Just see what it means, if it is or isn't [accepted], and what does it look like on the side of that with the next All Blacks role coming up.”
Robertson was the unlucky loser is NZR’s search to replace Steve Hansen after the 2019 Rugby World Cup with Hansen’s assistant Ian Foster instead chosen for the gig.
The former All Black included Blues coach Leon MacDonald and Crusaders assistant Jason Ryan in his pitch and said the trio were still on board for another bid, depending on when the job could be up for grabs again.
“I've asked a few questions around the All Blacks job and what it will look like, what timing?
“We've talked to the coaching group that I took [to the interview process] last time, and we're still well aligned.
“But things can change, so we're just making sure we get a lot more of those answers back from those questions.”
Foster’s current contract with NZR also ends this year but, disregarding a disastrous 2021 season, it’s likely that will be extended to 2023 for the World Cup.
Robertson said Foster’s movements are another factor he needed to weigh up.
“It's pretty clear if I sign a couple more years I've done the Crusaders for seven years, which I love doing, but what does it mean the next step after that? How does that line up around the 2023 World Cup if this coaching group stays on? There's a lot of things going on, there's a lot of answers,” Robertson said.
“I've been coming down to Rugby Park since 2008 in some role as a coach, it's great, a great lifestyle and stuff, but I'm also am ambitious career coach, so for me to have an opportunity, whether it's here or elsewhere, you look at those opportunities.”
One opportunity reportedly in the mix is England with pressure mounting on current coach Eddie Jones, although Robertson played down the rumour.
"It's pretty flattering to be mentioned [for] international jobs - especially a role like that," Robertson says.
"It comes with a bit of honour and prestige to lead someone's country, so to be held in that regard is pretty special."
Others suggested for the role include 2019 World Cup winning Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus and fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland.