(REUTERS) - Coach Steve Hansen is unlikely to be at the helm when New Zealand launch their defence of the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019, after the 56-year-old cast doubts over whether he will extend his contract which runs until 2017.
He served as assistant coach under Graham Henry from 2004 before taking over after the team's second World Cup triumph in 2011.
He has a 91 per cent win ratio as New Zealand head coach, winning 49 of his 54 matches in charge.
Hansen said it may not be in the best interest of the team if he were to carry on in his role. "There's a reason why the contract only goes to 2017 and that is because I'm not sure about anything beyond that," he told the Daily Telegraph.
"I wouldn't say 'no' but I'm certainly not saying 'yes' either. You only get 10 years for murder back home so...! I like the idea of changing the guard halfway through a cycle which has a World Cup in the middle of it.
"I think when people come in, it is easy to get some really dramatic shift early and it is a lot harder to keep that momentum going.
"Also, for a long time, we have put everything on the World Cup as the centre, but unless you've got real strength of character, you can get tricked into making decisions which are right for your survival, as opposed to what is right for the team.
"I would probably say it is more likely that I won't be there after 2017."