Hanks returned to New Zealand three years later, where he took on the role of Assistant Coach with the Waikato provincial team between 2005 and 2007, securing the Air New Zealand Cup in 2006 and the Ranfurly Shield a year later. Throughout 2006 and 2007 he also worked for the Super 14 side, the Chiefs, as Technical Analyst and Skills Coach, combining the same role with the Junior All Blacks. In 2008 he was promoted to Head Coach of Waikato - a role he left for his second spell with Wasps.
Welcoming Hanks, Sale Sharks' Executive Director of Sport Steve Diamond said: "Tony will be responsible for attack, our game plan and our overall defensive strategy. He has worked with some of the best teams in the world and brings a level of experience and achievement that will be of immediate benefit to Sale Sharks. There was tremendous interest in this position and Tony has emerged ahead of several other high profile and experienced coaches. He is the final piece of the off-field jigsaw and we are delighted he has chosen to join us."
Hanks commented: "I'm excited to be joining Sale Sharks, especially at a stage when there have been many changes. With so many players joining to form a much-changed team, it's a great time to be involved and I share the massive sense of anticipation at the club."
Sale Sharks are in Pool 5 of this season's Amlin Challenge Cup along with the French duo of Brive and Agen, as well as Spanish newcomers, La Vila.