Kiwi coaches seeking their fortunes abroad

With the likes of Sir Graham Henry and Steve Hansen dominating the All Blacks coaching job over the past 15 years, it's no surprise there are some seriously talented Kiwis coaching rival teams around the world.

Even Sir Graham and Hansen themselves were forced to take a pathway through Wales en route to the top NZ role.

If you're in doubt about which teams to support at the Rugby World Cup when New Zealand aren't playing, this list of Kiwi-coached sides may swing your allegiance.

Joe Schmidt (Ireland)

International teams coached: Ireland (2013-present)

International record: 50-18-1 (72.5 percent)

Tournament titles: Three (Six Nations 2014, 2015, 2018)

One of the most accomplished and heralded international coach outside New Zealand, Joe Schmidt has seemingly experienced success whenever he's been taken sole charge of a team. 

He began by taking an underdog Bay of Plenty side to a memorable Ranfurly Shield win over Auckland in 2004, before his next head coach role saw him move to Ireland's Leinster club in 2010. 

Between 2010-13, Schmidt led Leinster to 77 wins from 99 matches, claiming prestigious Heineken Cup titles in 2011 and 2012. At that point, he was given the reins of the Irish national side and he's never looked back. 

Under his guidance, Ireland won the Six Nations two years in a row, beat the All Blacks twice after 111 winless years and secured the side's first-ever test win on South African soil, followed by a rare tour win in Australia and a Grand Slam. 

Ominously, his record against the All Blacks is an even 2-2 and his sides have outscored them 87-83.

Schmidt's coaching style is renowned for preparation and study, with the overarching tactic of out-thinking and out-witting his opponents.

Warren Gatland (Wales)

International teams coached: Ireland (1998-2001), Wales (2007-present), British & Irish Lions (2013, 2017)

International record: 87-71-4 (54.9 percent)

Tournament titles: Four (Six Nations 2008, 2012, 2013, 2019)

Warren Gatland seems to have been in the running to coach the All Blacks for 20 years, and if not for the combined presence of Sir Graham Henry and Steve Hansen, he would have been an extremely worthy appointee. 

As it stands, he's built an incredibly successful international coaching career in Europe, amassing the most Grand Slams ever by a coach and building Wales into a side to be feared at the 2019 World Cup tournament. 

Gatland is known as an expert man-manager, able to instill confidence and belief into his players like few others. He has succeeded with Wales by employing a largely defensive style, with emphasis on set-piece play and minimal mistakes. 

Milton Haig (Georgia)

 International teams coached: Georgia (2012-present)

International record: 55-21-2 (70.5 percent), Tier One: 0-8

Tournament titles: Five (Rugby Europe Champs 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019)

A former Bay of Plenty captain as a player, Milton Haig cut his coaching teeth in provincial rugby. His first head-coach role was with Wanganui in 2002, before he progressed to the first division with Counties-Manukau in 2008. 

After four largely forgettable seasons in South Auckland, Haig was appointed head coach of the Georgian national side in 2012, at the recommendation of fellow coach Vern Cotter. 

Under Haig's leadership, Georgia have become one of the better tier-two sides in world rugby. While his team are yet to register a victory over a tier-one outfit, they are unbeaten against Samoa under his tenure, have beaten Tonga four times, and posted impressive wins over Fiji and Japan. 

Georgia enter this year's tournament ranked 12th in the world, ahead of sides like Tonga, Italy and Samoa. 

Haig has fostered a tough, forward-driven, defensive playing style for the Georgian side, emphasising the literal strength of their pack. 

Jamie Joseph (Japan)

International teams coached: Maori All Blacks (2010-2013), Japan (2016-present) 

International record: 14-9-1 (58.3 percent), Tier One: 1-8-1

Tournament titles: One (Asia Rugby Championship 2017)

Jamie Joseph had a long and successful playing career, before entering the world of coaching in 2003. He accumulated 20 test caps for the All Blacks, playing at the infamous 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, before switching allegiance to Japan in 1999 for another crack at world honours. 

His time in the 'Land of the Rising Sun' would prove to be a sign of things to come. After three successful seasons in charge of Wellington, three international wins with the Maori All Blacks and a maiden Super Rugby title with the Highlanders, Joseph took up the role of head coach for Japan in 2016. 

Under his direction, the 'Brave Blossoms' have posted a winning record, the most notable results being a memorable draw with France in Paris and a 34-17 defeat of Italy last year.

Joseph is known for injecting bold attitudes and tactics into his playing squads, and has consistently produced big performances from underdog sides.  

Steve Jackson (Samoa)

International teams coached:  Samoa (2018-present)

International record:  2-5 (28.6 percent)

Tournament titles: 0

Steve Jackson is the least experienced of our current expat coaches, with just three matches under his belt leading an international side. 

Jackson is a former NZ Maori representative, and played for Tasman, Auckland, North Harbour and Southland at domestic level. He then moved to assistant coach roles with Tasman and Counties-Manukau, before securing his first head-coaching job at North Harbour in 2014. 

After a slow start with the province, he broke through in the 2016 season, leading them to the championship title, which saw the team promoted to the premiership division.

Jackson will be hoping that trend continues with Samoa, after the side posted losses to the USA and Georgia in his first two games in charge.

He has already spoken of bringing the fear back into the Samoan jersey, so look for a bold and aggressive approach from the side in Japan.

John McKee (Fiji)

International teams coached: Fiji (2014-present)

International record: 22-12-1 (62.9 percent), Tier One: 3-10

Tournament titles: Four (Pacific Nations Cup 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)

Wellington-raised McKee played domestic rugby in New Zealand and Australia, before entering the professional coaching world in the late 1990s. 

After taking on a variety of roles in Australia, France, Ireland, Tonga and with the short-lived Pacific Islanders outfit, McKee took charge of the Fijian national side. McKee has brought a period of stability to Fijian rugby, after becoming the side's ninth coach in 20 years in 2014. 

That stability has also resulted in success, with the team taking out the Pacific Nations Cup four times in five years, while recording tier-one wins against Italy and Scotland.

McKee has shown that a measured, relaxed coaching style, focused on improving set-piece play, is a successful strategy for the Fijian Flyers.


Photo caption: Manu Samoa coach Steve Jackson