Top All Black job announcement nears
December 12, 1999

The New Zealand RFU Board is rumoured to be on standby for a special meeting, perhaps before the end of this week, to receive the recommendation of the committee appointed to find John Hart's successor.

The candidates have all been interviewed and are expected to undergo a second phase of interviewing, with the final choice expected to be between Wayne Smith, Peter Sloane and Tony Gilbert.

New CEO David Rutherford has heightened expectation that the coach will be one of these three with his recent comments, "We have warned people who may be affected to start getting some contingency plans in order. Everyone is pretty well prepared. I met with all the Super 12 chief executives and coaches who were at the Sanzar conference in Sydney. Everyone is 120% committed to putting New Zealand rugby first and their franchises second.'

There are risks associated with the appointment of either of Smith, Sloane or Gilbert and the Board will obviously have to consider these.

Both Smith and Sloane were assistants to John Hart, but how much blame or responsibility attaches to them as a consequence of the All Blacks' fourth place finish ? And how much account do they take of Gilbert's relative coaching inexperience - one NPC title with Otago in 1998 and a Super 12 final with the Highlanders in 1999?

We are likely to know the reasoning behind the decision very soon.

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