Assistant coach Wayne Smith has this morning announced he's stepping down from his All Blacks role after this year's Rugby Championship.
That follows the three Test Lions series.
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Source: 1 NEWS
Smith is planning a break from the game after a stellar 20-year rugby coaching career.
"It's unbelievable to think that I've been involved in playing and coaching with the All Blacks for 20 years, a third of my life," Smith said today.
"I've had an incredible time and shared in some fantastic experiences.
"But it's time to hang up my coach's whistle for a while, take a bit of a hiatus, freshen up and spend some more time with my wife Trish and our family."
Smith was quick to thank his family for their unending support in a job which has seen him spend large chunks of time away from home.
"First and foremost, I want to thank my family for allowing me the opportunity to do what I have done for so many years.
"I've never taken their support for granted and it's been huge for me.
"I also want to acknowledge all the All Blacks coaches, management and players I've worked with over the years.
"Working alongside these professionals has been massive for me and has kept me up to date with new ideas and stimulated my thinking."
He reserved a special thank you for 2011 World Cup winning coach Graham Henry, whom alongside he suffered the humiliation of the 2007 World Cup quarter final loss to France in Cardiff.
"I'd also like to acknowledge Sir Graham Henry who gave me the opportunity to return to the All Blacks coaching set up in 2004. I really appreciated that, as well as the guidance he gave me," Smith said.
NZR CEO Steve Tew summed up Smith's contribution with this special tribute.
"He has guided numerous players in their careers, from club level through to the All Blacks, is undoubtedly one of the great thinkers in the game and has made as great a contribution to the legacy of the jersey and everything it stands for than anyone else in the modern game."
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said Smith is "a very special man".
"He has an unrelenting passion for the game, he's always been innovative, prepared to speak his mind, and he's never allowed himself to stop learning. He's always been willing to share himself with others and be open to their ideas."
Smith's coaching career enjoyed success at nearly every stop
After coaching the Crusaders to two Super Rugby titles in 1998 and 1999 he was given the the All Blacks reins in 2000 - and sacked the following year.
He would move to coach the Southampton Saints in 2002, before returning to New Zealand for another crack with the All Blacks.
From 2004-2011 Smith joined Graham Henry as an assistant for the All Blacks alongside Steve Hansen.
He, along with Henry and Hansen, had to fight to keep their jobs after the 2007 World Cup quarter final debacle in Cardiff.
Four years later he watched on, still as an assistant, as his All Blacks beat France 8-7 to finally win the coveted Web Ellis Cup for a second time.
He stepped aside after that, returning to Super Rugby with the Chiefs from 2012 to 2014 and helping the Waikato based franchise to two Super Rugby titles, with head coach Dave Rennie.
In 2015, the All Blacks came knocking again, with head coach Hansen reuniting his dream team with Smith to guide them to a second successive World Cup final win, this time 34-17 over Australia at Twickenham.