Former British Lions and Wales coach Graham Henry is the new coach of the All Blacks.
Henry has had a long-held ambition to coach the All Blacks
Henry was chosen in preference to ex-coach John Mitchell, who had had to re-apply for his post after New Zealand's poor World Cup.
The 57-year-old Henry was the Wales coach from 1998 to 2002, with a record of 20 wins, one draw and 13 defeats.
He also coached the Lions on the tour of Australia in 2001, a series the Lions lost 2-1.
"In the board's view, Graham Henry is the most qualified person to coach the All Blacks and achieve the very high standards we expect from them," NZRU president Jock
Henry, who has signed an initial two-year contract, said: "My experience I think was a key factor.
"I have been dreaming about getting this job for 30 years, so I've been trying to plan and
get myself right for it," he said.
"I think you change your style, the Welsh experience was huge.
"I was very much a cup-winning coach, now I think I am more of a people coach.
"To keep your job you have to think about results as well so you have to get the balance right."
Current Wales coach Steve Hansen, who was brought to the Principality as Henry's No 2, is confident the right man got the job.
"I would just like to congratulate Graham on getting the All Blacks job and wish him all the best," said Hansen, who could yet end up as assistant to Henry when he quits Wales after the 2004 Six Nations.
Welsh Rugby Union chief executive David Moffett also offered his congratulations, but couldn't resist a tongue-in-cheek quip about Henry's qualifications.
"Maybe I should be sending the New Zealand Rugby Union an invoice for helping to develop Graham as an international coach during his time with Wales!" Moffett joked.
The All Blacks won 11 of 13 Test matches this year and clinched the Tri-Nations title for a second successive year, as well as reclaiming the Bledisloe Cup from Australia.
But despite being billed as pre-tournament favourites they lost their World Cup semi-final to Australia.
After the tournament, the New Zealand Rugby Union threw the job open, citing Mitchell's difficult relationship with the media and sponsors - rather than his record - as the main factors behind the decision.
"At the end of the day I've paid the ultimate price for the
loss in the World Cup semi-final," said Mitchell.
"I know I made mistakes, I know I did not handle the media
well and that I could have done more with sponsors and the NZRU management.
"But I am leaving All Black rugby knowing that over the past
two years I have built a young and exciting team that has played superb rugby.
"I take great pride in my coaching record."
Both candidates were interviewed for more than four hours earlier this week by a three-man panel comprising union chief executive Chris Moller, director Mike Eagle and vice president John Graham.