Brad Thorn says he would happily coach against the All Blacks one day but that he's still to earn his stripes after signing a two-year Super Rugby extension with the Queensland Reds.
Thorn played rugby league for Brisbane, Queensland and Australia before winning a rugby World Cup with the All Blacks.
He was fast-tracked to the Reds' top job after success with their junior and pathway teams but, despite now set for at least six years at the helm at Ballymore, says he's still not sure he'll be a "career coach".
More silverware was added to his cabinet when the Reds won the Super Rugby AU title and if they continue on their merry way he could enter the Wallabies frame once his contract expires in 2023.
Conversely, with good mate and Crusaders mentor Scott Robertson - the pair attended each other's weddings - also contracted until 2023, Thorn could find himself in demand if the All Blacks seek a package deal beyond the 2023 World Cup.
"I wasn't a player who thought I'd be a career coach and I still don't know if it's going to be a career for me," Thorn, who retired from playing as a 40-year-old, said on Tuesday.
"It's been probably the hardest thing I've had to do in my life, maybe second behind raising kids.
"Previously it was going from league to union, but this is another level.
"And to go to that next level is a big step and I want to consistently beat New Zealand teams before I think about it - you've got to earn the right."
He has no dramas with inflicting pain on his country of birth though.
"Twenty-five games and New Zealand teams won 23 of them," he said of the Trans-Tasman competition.
"That's a good way of measuring it ... it's good having them there, because it's a good marker, up against the best in the world."
"If I was one day honoured to do that (Wallabies) job I'd be happy to take on all-comers.
"And for a guy that loves a challenge, there are no tougher challengers than facing the All Blacks."
LEARNING: Rennie takes lessons from defeat
LOCKED IN: Thorn re-signs with Reds
FULL SUPPORT: Coaches back 20 min red card
Jim McKay (attack), Michael Todd (defence) and Cameron Lillicrap (set piece and skills) have also re-signed as Thorn's assistants.
"As a player I had that focus where sometimes I felt like i went onto the field on my own, had that accountability," he said.
"Over time (as a coach) the appreciation of my staff and doing it as a team (has emerged).
"Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and you bring that together to make you strong.
"Geez it commits you. You just don't want to let anyone down."