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McLeod to be All Blacks' defence coach

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/06/2017

Scott McLeod acknowledges he'll be replacing a master in the trade, but wants to be his own person when he joins the All Blacks coaching team.

McLeod will take over from Wayne Smith as defence coach - a role he holds at the Highlanders - after the Rugby Championship.

In May, Smith, nicknamed The Professor, said he would be stepping down after a coaching involvement with the Test side that began in 1998 and included two years in the top job.

"He's a master coach," McLeod said.

"He's done a hell of lot for this team and he's going to leave a massive hole."

But the 44-year-old McLeod, appointed until the 2019 World Cup, said his aim wouldn't be to fill Smith's shoes.

"He's done a fantastic job and I want to do my own fantastic job."

A Waikato midfielder, McLeod played 17 times for the All Blacks, including 10 Tests.

As a coach, he has been an assistant at the Chiefs and taken charge of New Zealand Under-20.

He joined the Highlanders in 2013, and helped to guide them to their maiden Super Rugby title in 2015.

McLeod said coaching defence was something he had "fallen in love with", and his philosophy was simple.

"It's just to get the ball back," he said.

"If you can do that in certain parts of the field, then that opens it up to the attack to take full opportunity of what's in front."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said McLeod had a clarity about what he wanted to bring, and his desire to do things his way was "massively important".

"All the structures Smithy has set up, he's familiar with because they talk on the phone a lot," Hansen said.

"But he clearly displayed in the interview he's got his own ideas."

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