ROTORUA, New Zealand Former centre Scott McLeod is to succeed Wayne Smith in the All Blacks coaching setup, New Zealand Rugby said on Saturday.
The 44-year-old, whose playing career was plagued by injury, had been an assistant to Jamie Joseph and then Tony Brown at the Otago Highlanders, primarily working on the defence, the same role he will have with the All Blacks.
He took the head coaching reigns from Brown for the Highlanders' 23-22 victory over the British and Irish Lions last Tuesday while Brown was undertaking his duties as an assistant with the Japan national side.
McLeod will shadow the team for the Rugby Championship alongside Smith before joining them full time on the end of year tour to Europe. Smith said earlier this year he would be ending his 20-year association with the team as a player and coach.
"We're delighted to be bringing Scott into the All Blacks family," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said in a statement.
"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 and we think he will be a great fit."
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)