Sport | All Blacks

Former All Black named as All Blacks XV coach

Leon MacDonald has been named as the head coach of the new All Blacks XV side that will play Ireland A and the Barbarians in Ireland and England.

The tour would present a huge challenge and a priceless opportunity for the players chosen, according to MacDonald (Rangitāne ki Wairau), who has played 56 tests for the All Blacks and is currently the head coach of the Blues Super Rugby team.

MacDonald has been climbing the coaching ranks quickly since retiring from playing and, now with fellow assistant coaches Clayton McMillan and Scott Hansen, has the task of developing fringe All Blacks players' skills in the hope of impressing the All Blacks coaches ahead of next year's World Cup.

With the Māori All Blacks not featuring again this year, it means for many Māori players this could be one of their last chances to push their case for inclusion in France next year.

MacDonald called in to lead the All Blacks XV.

"The Māori All Black team is obviously a very important part of NZ Rugby and the programme. They did a fantastic job earlier in the year when they had their opportunity against the Irish. We're just about to open up to a few other players to get some exposure, [so it's] a good thing as well.

"The next tier of players get to experience more than just playing in New Zealand and Australia. These tours are going to become really important, I think."

Macdonald says it's an honour to coach any team wearing the silver fern on their jersey, and is looking forward to what will be two tough matches.

As an essential high-performance pathway to the All Blacks, the All Blacks XV was introduced as NZ Rugby's next senior national representative team after the top New Zealand team. The All Blacks XV will be held to the same high standards as the other teams in black.