| Former All Blacks winger John Kirwan is now guiding Italy
Sydney: If rugby’s World Cup were decided by coaches, New Zealand would already be well on the way to winning the Webb Ellis Cup.
Of the 20 nations in the fifth World Cup, seven are coached by native New Zealanders.
All three of the South Pacific nations in the World Cup, which kicks off on Friday, have Kiwi trainers.
Former New Zealand Maori players Jim Love and Mac McCallion coach Tonga and Fiji respectively, while John Boe is in charge of the hard-hitting men from Samoa.
All Blacks winger John Kirwan, who played 63 Tests for New Zealand, is now trying to guide Italy to their first World Cup quarter final.
But Kirwan’s Azzurri will first have to overcome pool D rivals Wales, who are coached by Kirwan’s Kiwi compatriot Steve Hansen.
Their October 25 match in Canberra is likely to decide which of those two teams follow, appropriately, New Zealand into the knockout phase of the tournament from pool D.
Coincidentally, Kirwan and South Africa’s Rudolf Straeuli are the only two coaches who have won the World Cup as players — Kirwan in 1987 and Straeuli in 1995.
Namibia coach David Waterston rounds out the list of globe-trotting New Zealand coaches. Waterston was on the South Africa coaching staff when they won the title in 1995 and also coached Tonga when they beat France in Nuku’alofa in 1999.
Favourites New Zealand boast a suitably home grown leader in John Mitchell, who played 134 games for Waikato