Highlanders Assistant Coach and former All Black Scott McLeod has been appointed as a new Assistant Coach of the All Blacks.

44-year-old McLeod will look after defence in the All Blacks, taking over from Wayne Smith, who will leave the team at the end of the Investec Rugby Championship.

McLeod said: "I'm very honoured and excited to be given the opportunity to work with the All Blacks as Defence Coach.  Having worked in Investec Super Rugby for the last eight years with some of New Zealand's top rugby talent, I was highly motivated to continue that, but at a higher level.  To work with the All Blacks in pinnacle events will be both challenging and rewarding.

"I'm very grateful to the Highlanders club for supporting me for the last five years and also encouraging me into this role.  On behalf of my family, I'd also like to thanks so many people for their ongoing support."

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew said: "Scott is an outstanding coach and we're very pleased to have him join the All Blacks.  He's been a key part of the Highlanders coaching team which has enjoyed fantastic success in recent years.  They were champions in 2015, semi-finalists last year and have already qualified for the playoffs this season. The win over the British & Irish Lions last week was obviously special for him and the team. We look forward to seeing him join the team later in the year."

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said:  We're delighted to be bringing Scott into the All Blacks family.  He's done a great job with the Highlanders, he has a passion for coaching defence, and he's demonstrated over a number of seasons that he has the skillset, temperament and qualities that we're looking for and we think he will be a great fit."

Scott McLeod - mini biography

Born on 2 February 1973, Scott McLeod first made his mark as a strong, running midfielder in Hamilton with the Waikato Colts.  He made his provincial debut for Waikato in 1995 and impressed enough to be named as a standby player for the All Blacks end of year tour.  He went onto play 69 games for his province.  He was named in the Chiefs for the inaugural Super 12 season in 1996 and made his Test debut for the All Blacks in June that year against Samoa in Napier. He played 17 matches, including 10 Tests over the next three seasons before ending his Super Rugby career in 2001. He played 45 matches in that time for the Chiefs.  After playing in Japan, he returned to New Zealand to coach as Waikato's Assistant Coach (2008-2012) and Assistant Coach of the Chiefs (2008 to 2011) with a specific focus on skills and defence.  He coached the New Zealand Under 20 in 2012 before joining the Highlanders in 2013.