An upbeat Scott Robertson says he knows his All Blacks coaching fate and is waiting for New Zealand Rugby to announce their decision over the next fortnight.
Robertson, in his final season as Crusaders head coach, addressed the media at the team’s Rugby Park headquarters this morning.
The former All Black, who has won a Super Rugby title every year since he began at the franchise in 2017, said he had had good conversations with New Zealand Rugby over his future.
Robertson, who admitted he had had offers from other nations, said he hadn’t signed a contract with NZ Rugby, but added: “The next two weeks are big, yeah.”
A final decision on Robertson’s and Foster’s fates is likely to be made at NZ Rugby’s next board meeting on February 23.
After Robertson's interview, NZ Rugby issued a one-sentence statement which read: "New Zealand Rugby is continuing to have internal discussions, but an announcement about the All Blacks head coach or process is not imminent.”
Robertson was snubbed as Sir Steve Hansen’s replacement in 2019, with Ian Foster getting the nod, but the All Blacks’ inconsistent results since have meant that Foster, Hansen’s former assistant, has rarely been out of the spotlight.
Last year, after the All Blacks’ comeback win over South Africa in Johannesburg, Foster’s contract was extended until the end of this year, meaning he may go to September’s World Cup in France knowing it will be his last assignment as head coach.
The next few weeks may also be distracting for Robertson and the Crusaders, the defending Super Rugby Pacific champions.
When asked about that this morning, he said: “The key word is ‘professional’. I understand my roles and responsibilities as a head coach. This is going to happen in this part of your career. The job is results driven, it’s board driven, and people are going to make decisions and you’re going to have to live with them.
“I have to trust that process and take a few breaths when I need to and it will all work out.”
Asked whether his phone had been ringing with offers recently – England and Australia have appointed new coaches in Steve Borthwick and Eddie Jones – he said: “I’ve had options but like I’ve always said, my preference is to be here in NZ and coach my country. I’ve been really patient.
“Look, as I’ve said, I’m trying to be as professional as I can, take great advice, and have good conversations with those I need to and NZ Rugby have been good in that regard.”
Asked again whether he could deal with the potential enormity of being appointed All Blacks head coach in the midst of a Super Rugby season, he said: “I can deal with whatever on and off the field. I’m experienced enough now.”
In a possible reference to an offer from England, who sacked Jones for Borthwick, Robertson said: “At one stage there it could only have been 10 days and I was coaching in a Test match. Whatever lead in or time it is, I’ll deal with it."
It could also have been a reference to last year, when Robertson was contacted by NZR boss Mark Robinson about his willingness to take over from Foster following the All Blacks' dispiriting defeat to the Boks at Mbombela.
“It’s a big part of my life,” he said of his time at suburban Rugby Park in Christchurch.
“I’ve been coming here for half my life as a player and coach. The big thing is I want to set this team up as best as I possibly can. The boys should love every day and their efforts reflected in the weekend – that’s my goal.”