Wellington - Wayne Smith, who was part of the coaching team that guided New Zealand to their World Cup win in 2011, will return to Steve Hansen's staff next year to help prepare the All Blacks for their title defence in England.
Smith, 57, will take the role of defence coach and work with Ian Foster, forwards coach Mike Cron and skills coach Mick Byrne under head coach Hansen, who took over from Graham Henry after the 2011 triumph on home soil.
"He is one of the most astute rugby coaches in world rugby and having worked with him in the past, we know just how valuable he is to any team he is involved in," Hansen said in a team news release.
"'Smithy' will add another dimension to what is already a strong coaching group in what will be a big year for us. We look forward to welcoming him back into the fold.
"Smithy's role will be purely around defence, but as we do with all our coaches we will tap into his vast knowledge of other areas of the game."
Smith, who was All Blacks head coach for 17 Tests in 2000-2001, will stand down from his position as assistant coach with the Chiefs, who he helped to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.
"I care deeply about the All Blacks, I'm excited to be back and looking forward to getting stuck into next year," he said.