Steve Hansen is sure some quality candidates will "drop from the sky" when he goes searching for a new All Blacks assistant coach.

New Zealand Rugby will advertise immediately for a replacement for Wayne Smith, who announced on Friday he is stepping aside in October, after the Rugby Championship.

Hansen says replacing close friend Smith, the person, rather than the coach, will be the biggest challenge.

However, the All Blacks head coach doesn't intend to shoulder-tap any preferred candidate.

He will help with the formal process in appointing someone to work alongside Smith during the Rugby Championship, effectively bedding them into the All Blacks' methods.

The process will be fascinating, with a host of well-qualified candidates likely to be interested.

From the well-performing New Zealand Super Rugby teams, experienced pair Chris Boyd and John Plumtree have turned around the fortunes of the Hurricanes while Scott Robertson has made an immediate impact this season with the unbeaten Crusaders.

Tana Umaga hasn't enjoyed the same success in two seasons at the Blues.

Tony Brown (Highlanders) and Dave Rennie (Chiefs) are probably out of contention after lining up contracts in Japan and Scotland respectively later this year.

Offshore, several New Zealand coaches have enjoyed degrees of success, most notably Joe Schmidt with Ireland and Vern Cotter with Scotland.

Hansen will keep an open mind when the CVs roll in, taking into account how he believes the candidates will work alongside himself and assistant Ian Foster.

"But you've got to be flexible in your thinking. You don't know what's going to drop out of the sky," Hansen said.

"We've been in the industry long enough to know who's out there and it's a matter of seeing they're available, keen, and then going through the due process."

The first All Blacks player to voice an opinion was halfback TJ Perenara, whose said Smith's departure will be a "sad day" for the team.

Asked who should be promoted, Perenara nominated well-travelled Hurricanes defensive specialist Plumtree.

"I think he's a good coach and I think he can adapt to any sort of situation."

Smith believes there are a number of capable candidates in Super Rugby who have the opportunity to add something new to what is a golden era for the All Blacks.

The newcomer will inherit Smith's specific defence portfolio but might not take on some of the other aspects the 60-year-old was involved with.

"It will probably be more simplified than what Wayne is doing now," Hansen said.

"While we call Smithy a defence coach, he has had a big responsibility through the whole team.

"Whoever we appoint will spend some time with us, in the Rugby Championship, just having a look over Smith's shoulder, seeing how he's doing, seeing how we operate as a team, so it's not a big overwhelming thing coming in."

NZ Newswire

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