Ian Foster said on Wednesday that he would not reapply for the job of All Blacks head coach after this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.
It came after New Zealand Rugby said earlier in the day they would select the All Blacks coach from 2024 within the next few weeks.
Foster criticised the governing body for starting the recruitment process in the middle of World Cup preparations.
“As I said last week, I felt the best thing for our team and for our entire management group was to have this process done after the Rugby World Cup,” Foster said in a statement.
“That hasn’t happened but we will accept the decision and move on.”
The 57-year-old added that he remained focused on winning the World Cup in September-October, before concluding: “I won’t be reapplying for the job of head coach.”
The unusual step of starting the appointment process well before Foster’s contract expires is widely seen as an attempt to stop international sides poaching leading contenders.
New Zealand Rugby chairperson Patsy Reddy said it was crucial to start the search for a new coach now.
“This is particularly important in a global rugby environment where there is significant competition for elite coaching talent,” she said.
Foster came under pressure last year following a string of erratic All Blacks performances, including a series defeat to Ireland and their first loss at home to Argentina.
He said last month that speculation about his future could hamper the side’s build-up to the World Cup.
“A particular frustration is that there seems to be a focus on setting timetables based on what some preferred candidates feel is right for them versus potentially what is right for this All Blacks team,” he told Newstalk ZB radio.
In-demand Canterbury Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has been tipped as the front-runner to replace Foster.
A former All Blacks loose forward nicknamed “Razor”, Robertson has coached New Zealand’s domestic Crusaders side since 2017, leading them to six successive Super Rugby titles.
Several international and club teams have shown an interest in luring him overseas.
Japan’s head coach Jamie Joseph, also a former All Blacks loose forward, is another leading candidate.
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