All Blacks' coaching template the best - White

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    28 Jun 2018     Getty Images

New Zealand's method of using three international coaches, Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith, had proven its worth and was one of the reasons New Zealand were leaders in world rugby.


Winning Rugby World Cup coach in 2007 Jake White said in a column on that Henry, Hansen and Smith weren't just head coaches of three club sides – they were the best of the best.

"New Zealand headhunted three international coaches to sit in the box – Smith had been head coach of New Zealand, Hansen had coached Wales and Henry had coached Wales and the British & Irish Lions before heading up the All Blacks.

"Most coaches who get fired from a national post never come into the system again, but New Zealand went and got Wayne Smith to come back," he said.

The reason for doing that was with three head coaches working together they would know all the dynamics required in the job.

"They all had first-hand experience of the job and were sensitive to the outside factors that influence a head coach, like the media, sponsorship stakeholders and board members," he said.

"When the pressure is on in the coaches box, and decisions have to be made about substitutions and refereeing calls, a coaching staff needs experience to understand what's at stake so that they can get through that with the best outcome."

White said having an assistant who had been a high-level head coach was sometimes more beneficial than having an innovative, but inexperienced assistant.
"Often what happens in South Africa is you go from being an assistant coach at the Boks to being a Super Rugby franchise head coach, and it should probably be the other way round. I'm a product of that and I know what it's like to have assistants who have been head coaches," he said.

"I know the difference when you don't have guys like that in the booth with you. When some of your assistant coaches have never been to New Zealand before and the Hurricanes are running your team to pieces in Wellington, there's silence when you ask, 'what should we do here?' – and it's not because they're not thinking, it's because they've got absolutely no idea," White said.

When the pressure was on, coaches with experience were needed. It was the same on the field when the players with plenty of Test caps were able to handle big moments.

White said he didn't have the perfect model but what New Zealand had done was the benchmark.

"If South Africa was coached by Rassie [Erasmus], Heyneke Meyer and Nick Mallett, wouldn't the Boks be in a better position to avoid speed bumps, and win next year's World Cup?" he said.

White said it was down to the lack of experience in World Cups that he got Eddie Jones to join South Africa in 2007.

"He'd been there and done that; it was a no-brainer.

"After we won, people said it was because of Eddie. That doesn't bother me at all because I've got no doubt that he helped us win – that's the reason I brought him in!

"We didn't necessarily do everything Eddie suggested, but the conversations we had made us better," he said.