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Ex-All Blacks coach Hansen confirms Japan move

Japan move: Former New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen © AFP / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Dec 2Former New Zealand coach Steve Hansen confirmed Monday he is taking up a role with the Toyota Verblitz in Japan’s Top League.

Hansen’s tenure with the All Blacks ended after they finished third at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, where they beat Wales 40-17 in the bronze-medal match.

In a video statement, Hansen said his role with Toyota Verblitz would be more as a consultant rather than a coach.

“I’ve got a new job which involves me mentoring, consulting and advising at Toyota Verblitz,” Hansen said, confirming widespread speculation that he had taken up an offer to work in Japan.

“It’s not as a head coach, it’s more as an adviser, a mentor, and it requires me to be up there for five to 17 weeks a year.”

It is the second big All Blacks signing for Verblitz after Kieran Read, who ended his 127-Test international career after the World Cup, announced earlier this year he was also moving there.

The highly acclaimed Hansen, who was the All Blacks head coach when they won the World Cup in 2015 and an assistant coach when they won in 2011, will be working alongside former New South Wales Waratahs assistant Simon Cron who is now the Verblitz head coach.

“The opportunity to help him grow is something that really excites me,” Hansen said.

“While we want a winning Toyota Verblitz team, we also want an environment at the club that people can be proud of and that is very much like a family, like the sort of thing we had in the All Blacks.

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“While it’s not a full-time coaching role, it’s a role that still allows me to stay in the game.”

The 60-year-old Hansen’s link with Toyota Verblitz was leaked by England coach Eddie Jones after beating the All Blacks 19-7 in the World Cup semi-finals.

“I know he’s coming back here to coach at Toyota, so their cars will run a bit faster and I’m sure he’s going to get involved in helping World Rugby,” Jones said.

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