Warren Gatland is the new Chiefs coach, all confirmed today with the Wales & Lions mentor signed up for the next four years. But as one door opens another one slams shut with this move clearly (also) confirming that Gatland is no longer, indeed if he ever was, a possibility to replace Steve Hansen as All Blacks coach. Which in turn means that prized list of potential names is shrinking at such a rate there's really only two, for me, left in viable contention, current assistant Ian Foster and Crusaders head ScottRobertson.
Add any other names you might deem worthy but aside from those two, and a probable role for Japan's Jamie Joseph, everyone else is either of insufficient experience or already otherwise occupied. Whoever takes over the #1 job in NZ sport will face an enormous rebuilding job post Japan. And because the position of AB coach carries such huge responsibilities both on and off the rugby field, it's an appointment that'll always come under the closest scrutiny. When you add in the fact that NZR have already stated they want this all done and dusted before year's end then time really is of the essence.
To coach the All Blacks you need, in theory, to be domiciled doing the job here in New Zealand. That's always been the carrot to keep our finest within these shores much like the lure of the jersey is there to retain the players. However given the importance of AB success to everything about the sport here, I'm sure the national body would re-write all its own rules if the situation did indeed necessitate.
Warren Gatland is now just another worthy name we can strike off alongside Joe Schmidt (who withdrew from the race for personal reasons), Dave Rennie (rumoured to be eventually taking the Wallaby job), Wayne Pivac (taking over Wales), Robbie Deans (for whatever reason well out of favour) and perhaps Vern Cotter (ex-Scotland, now Montpellier). Which leaves, for mine, just a couple of names left the Crusaders coach and the current AB assistant.
Robertston has previously indicated he'd like a crack while Foster seems determined to keep his powder dry until after the RWC at least. Aside from those two, the other Super coaches are either too inexperienced at that level and/or haven't yet enjoyed the required level of on-field success. A wonderful coup for the Chiefs securing Gatland might be, I'm wondering whether it's also now left us a little light in suitable replacements for Steve Hansen. Because going through the names I can only find two. And if it isn't going to be Foster or Robertson, then please tell me who...