Clive Woodward says Steve Hansen should have waited until after the 2019 World Cup before announcing that will be stepping down as All Blacks coach.
Woodward, who coached England to the 2003 World Cup title, wrote in his column for the Daily Mail that Hansen’s decision to clarify his future eight months before the global showpiece will be a ‘major distraction for the coach, team and country’.
‘Making this public now is a huge mistake and if I was in [England coach] Eddie Jones’ shoes I’d be rubbing my hands,’ wrote Woodward.
‘The All Blacks always seem to make smart decisions on and off the pitch, so I am genuinely surprised by them.
‘Having zero distractions is key and this is a major distraction for the coach, team and country. Players will wonder and continually be asked: “Who is going to be in charge next?”.’
Rassie Erasmus confirmed recently that he would only be Bok coach until the end of the 2019 World Cup and would then focus on his role as SA Rugby director of rugby.
Woodward, though, believes coaching departures shouldn’t be made public until after a World Cup.
‘I want coaches saying: “I love this job, if you don’t want me, fire me”. I want total focus on winning the World Cup, moving on if successful and creating a dynasty.
‘I signed a four-year contract in 2003 [with England] before we went to Australia simply because I wanted no distractions. It totally focused my mind.
‘We now have a bunch of top coaches thinking about their next role. It’s weak. England must not get involved in this coaching sideshow, it really does give them an unexpected advantage.’
Jones is contracted as England coach until 2021.