(REUTERS) - Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen launched a scathing attack on New Zealand Rugby (NZR) on Thursday (July 28), claiming the federation had presided over a series of high-performance failures and its relationship with players had reached a nadir.
In an interview with New Zealand radio station Today FM, the World Cup-winning coach also took aim at the media for being too hard on current All Blacks boss Ian Foster, who has been under fire since the 2-1 home series defeat by Ireland.
NZR launched a review of the All Blacks' performance in the wake of the Ireland setback, resulting in Foster's assistant coaches John Plumtree and Brad Mooar being sacked.
The review followed recent turmoil in the national women's programme, which saw long-serving head coach Glenn Moore quit in April midway through a cultural review.
"Why don't (the media) put their attention on the New Zealand Rugby union?" said Hansen.
"There's been a lot of reviews done recently - Glenn Moore and Ian Foster on their coaching abilities. And when did New Zealand Rugby do a review of itself?
"Our high-performance department at the moment has to be squirming at our record at under-20 level.
"Are we getting that business right? I don't think so.
"If we're not winning under-20 World Cups we're not producing world-class players at a younger level to bring into this team."
NZR did not provide immediate comment when contacted by Reuters about Hansen's criticism.
Hansen, who guided the All Blacks to their 2015 Rugby World Cup win with Foster on his staff, said NZR had put players off-side when trying to secure their support for a private equity deal with US firm Silver Lake.
"The relationship between the board and the executive with the players is probably the worst it's ever been," he said.
Hansen defended Foster as a "very good coach" who had been treated poorly by the media and fans.
He also endorsed the under-fire Sam Cane as captain, noting that former skipper Richie McCaw was queried when the All Blacks crashed out of the 2007 World Cup in the quarter-finals, only to lead them to back-to-back triumphs in the 2011 and 2015 tournaments.
"We have to believe in him, we have to support him and he'll come right," said Hansen of Cane.
"He just needs time in the saddle."