Robbie Deans will coach the Barbarians for their landmark meeting with New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium later this year.
Deans, in charge of Japanese Top League champions Panasonic, led Australia from 2008-13 and is the most successful coach in Super Rugby history after winning five titles with the Crusaders.
He takes charge of the side for the match for the Killik Cup on November 4 and this will be his third spell in charge of the Barbarians. He coached the famous invitation team most recently in 2016 when they drew 31-31 with South Africa at Wembley.
The match celebrates the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the New Zealand Rugby Union and revives memories of famous meetings between the sides.
The 1973 encounter containing Gareth Edwards’s famous try is recognised as one of the greatest matches in the sport’s history and the Barbarians beat the All Blacks again in 2009 thanks to a hat-trick of tries from South Africa’s Bryan Habana.
“That (1973) was a landmark fixture that set high standards of how the game could be played in people’s minds and a huge part of the rivalry stems from that,” said Deans. “It launched the Barbarians to another level in terms of interest in them and their mystique.
“The Barbarians are special because of their unique approach to the game, espousing all the elements of rugby that we hold so dearly: the camaraderie, the meeting of different cultures, celebrating our differences and celebrating what we have in common, which is love of the game. We’re lucky to be a part of it.
“The Barbarians still retains that mystique and it retains its appeal to the players. They understand and appreciate that they’re part of a pretty special club.
“Rugby is part of New Zealand’s identity and they want to play the game in a positive way. These two teams meeting to celebrate New Zealand Rugby’s 125th anniversary is very apt and they think that as well. They could have chosen anyone to play this game against.”
In the last three years the Barbarians have beaten Ireland, England, Samoa and Fiji, drawn with South Africa and scored five tries in a 40-36 defeat against Australia.
But taking on the double World Cup winners – making their first appearance in London since the 2015 final – will be the ultimate test and the Barbarians will scour the globe for the best available talent.
“We’re hoping to gather some of the very best players in the world,” said Deans.
“It would be great to be able to assemble a group who can provide a fitting fixture and can play in a way that would capture the imagination of the public. We want to be able to test the All Blacks and bring a great deal to the fixture – we don’t want to spend all day chasing them.”