McLeod to replace Smith on All Blacks coaching staff

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New Zealand have confirmed former All Black Scott McLeod will join the team's backroom staff as an assistant coach.

An assistant at the Highlanders, McLeod took charge of the Super Rugby side for this week's hard-fought victory over the British and Irish Lions.

The 44-year-old will succeed Wayne Smith as the All Blacks' defence coach, with the latter set to leave his role at the end of this year's Rugby Championship.

"I'm very honoured and excited to be given the opportunity to work with the All Blacks as defence coach," said McLeod.

"Having worked in Super Rugby for the last eight years with some of New Zealand's top rugby talent, I was highly motivated to continue that, but at a higher level.  To work with the All Blacks in pinnacle events will be both challenging and rewarding."

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen added: "We're delighted to be bringing Scott into the All Blacks family.  He's done a great job with the Highlanders, he has a passion for coaching defence, and he's demonstrated over a number of seasons that he has the skillset, temperament and qualities that we're looking for. We think he will be a great fit."

Steve Tew, New Zealand Rugby's CEO, also hailed McLeod, stating: "Scott is an outstanding coach and we're very pleased to have him join the All Blacks.

"He's been a key part of the Highlanders coaching team which has enjoyed fantastic success in recent years. They were [Super Rugby] champions in 2015, semi-finalists last year and have already qualified for the playoffs this season.

"The win over the British & Irish Lions was obviously special for him and the team. We look forward to seeing him join the team later in the year."