Crusaders supercoach Scott Robertson is closing in on a role with the British & Irish Lions, as talks continue with New Zealand Rugby [NZR] on a contract extension that will keep him in the mix to be the next All Blacks coach.
Robertson last year missed out on the All Blacks job to Ian Foster, who on Saturday signed off on his first season in charge with a 38-0 drubbing of the Pumas to finish with a 3-2-1 record for 2020.
Foster had earlier retained the Bledisloe Cup and, barring a miracle win from either the Wallabies or Pumas on Saturday, the All Blacks will have also claimed the Tri Nations crown under his watch, too.
But there are those in New Zealand who are yet to be convinced Foster is the right man to take the All Blacks through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, while Steve Hansen's former assistant was only granted an initial two-year contract that is due to expire at the end of next year.
That means Robertson could be in the mix as early as 2022, but a successful year for Foster in 2021 will likely mean a contract extension and that the Crusaders boss is forced to wait until at least 2024 for a crack at the All Blacks.
"I've had some conversations with New Zealand Rugby," Robertson said after announcing his Crusaders squad for 2021.
"They've come down and had a chat, we are just in the process of asking a few questions about processes in the future and what that might look like, so I get a bit of assurance of what they're thinking when opportunities arrive."
One opportunity that is likely to come to fruition for Robertson is a role with the Lions for next year's tour of South Africa.
Robertson revealed in August he had approached Lions coach and fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland about a potential role, and it now appears as though he is closing in on joining the tourists' staff for what will be the biggest rugby series of 2021.
"We've had some good conversations the last couple of weeks," Robertson said.
"It wasn't an assistant role I was wanting, it was a learning opportunity for me, to help out with the professional development and to support the current coaching group. It wasn't about being an assistant as such.
"Those conversations are continuing ... it's a highly likely chance, I'm finding ways I can get there."
NZR has typically favoured their All Blacks coaches to have had experience overseas, although that was not the case with Foster who had been Hansen's assistant through two World Cups.
Robertson would likely court enormous interest from overseas clubs or international Unions if he is not secured by NZR, though it appears a matter of when and not if that the four-time Super Rugby-winning coach will take the reins at the All Blacks.