Barrett, Brown choose sides as All Blacks coaching race hots up

Tony Brown [L] and Jamie Joseph have formed a strong coaching partnership that may yet see them graduate to the All Blacks Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

New Zealand fullback Beauden Barrett has voiced his support for Ian Foster's bid to take over from Steve Hansen as All Blacks coach, saying he would like to see "continuity" in the role.

Japan assistant coach Tony Brown has meanwhile declared he will remain loyal to Jamie Joseph, as the key players in line to replace Hansen make their moves ahead of New Zealand Rugby [NZR] interviews over the coming weeks.

Hansen ended his 16-year association with the team after New Zealand beat Wales to clinch third place at the Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks returned to Auckland from Japan earlier on Tuesday and Barrett told reporters he loved working with assistant coach Foster.

"He's a very intelligent coach. A great team man and hopefully we can have some continuity going forward," the 28-year-old was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald.

Among the other candidates are Scott Robertson, who has taken the Crusaders to three successive Super Rugby titles, and Warren Gatland, the former Wales coach who is heading back to New Zealand to coach Chiefs. Joseph and current Glasgow coach Dave Rennie, who is reportedly Rugby Australia's No. 1 target to succeed Michael Cheika as Wallabies boss, are also reportedly interested in the biggest job in world rugby.

Gatland's agreement to take the British & Irish Lions to South Africa in 2021 could rule him out until at least then, while Joseph's stocks are high after Japan reached the quarterfinals of their home World Cup.

And the former Highlanders coach, who lifted the Super Rugby trophy in 2015, will be buoyed by the fact Brown has declared his loyalty with the former All Blacks fly-half held in high regard in New Zealand.

"It just didn't feel right to be floating between three coaching teams," Brown told Sky Sport's The Breakdown of his links to other contenders Robertson and Foster.

"I think our relationship [with Joseph], how we coach, how we know each other is what I love about the game of rugby.

"I've decided that me and him, wherever he goes I will go. I'm not sure where that is."

Brown was afforded plenty of praise for the fashion in which Japan played during the World Cup, the assistant coach credited with devising the game plan that saw the Brave Blossoms defeat both Scotland and Ireland on their way to topping Pool A.

But Brown said he would draw the line at coaching Australia, if Joseph was to take on the Wallabies job.

The panel to decide the next All Blacks coach was on Wednesday revealed with NZR chairman Brent Impey, incoming NZR chief executive Mark Robinson, NZR head of high performance Mike Anthony, former All Blacks coach and NZR life member Sir Graham Henry and former Silver Ferns coach and high performance sport New Zealand director, Waimarama Taumaunu.

"This is a hugely exciting time for New Zealand Rugby. We know that the All Blacks and New Zealand have been served well by exceptional coaches, so we are well aware of the importance of the task ahead," Impey said.

"We believe we have an excellent group of people on the panel, balancing the experience of winning high performance teams and leadership with external perspective and experience."

Hansen leaves big shoes to fill after he finished with an 86 percent winning record as All Blacks coach across an eight-year period when he was named World Rugby Coach of the Year four times.

"Steve's legacy is a very strong one. His win percentage speaks for itself," Barrett said. "I think the biggest thing with Steve is the way he makes his players' feel.

"We know he 100 percent has our back. As a player that's all you can really ask for. He's taught me a lot along the way and I'm very lucky for that."

Barrett said the All Blacks, who were beaten by England in the semifinal, were cheering for eventual champions South Africa in the final.

"It's nice to see a southern hemisphere team and players that we are so familiar with and have friendships with lift the trophy," he added. "If it couldn't be us, we were encouraging them to win."