'Wallabies like cousins, Kiwis my real family' says Hansen
SPOTLIGHT: Steve Hansen has been at the World Cup five times as a coach, but this time round he is there as an advisor and spectator.
One can probably say the former All Black has been there and one that.
Hansen, the World Rugby Coach of the Year from 2012-14, and 2016, and recipient of the Sport New Zealand Leadership Award in 2018, has led the team to its back-to-back victory at the World Cup in 2015, capping off a remarkable run of success.
Hansen coached the team to the first ‘perfect season’ in 2013 as the All Blacks were victorious in all 14 Tests they played. The All Blacks carried on that form in 2014, again winning the three-Test series against England 3-0 as well as their third consecutive Rugby Championship and a clean sweep on the year-end Northern Tour.
Then came the World Cup, where the All Blacks made history. Hansen’s coaching career began in Canterbury, highlighted by First Division titles in 1997 and 2001. He served as assistant coach of the Crusaders during title-winning seasons in 1999 and 2000.
He also coached New Zealand A on their tour to Europe in 2000. Internationally, he coached Wales in 29 Tests from 2002 to 2004, which included taking Wales to the 2003 World Cup quarterfinals and was a key part of the World Cup 2011-winning All Black coaching team from 2004-2011.
Hansen is also an All Black selector, together with Assistant Head Coach Ian Foster and former All Black Grant Fox.
He was very much in the news after helping the Wallabies get ready for the World Cup, but he is back with the All Blacks to give them some valuable insights, especially after going down to France in their World Cup opener last weekend.
Ahead of their next match against Allister Coetzee and Namibia, they now roped in the man who guided the country to glory in the 2015 World Cup edition.
Hansen sat down with The Daily Show to talk about his first World Cup coach as a spectator.
“I’m pretty good. I was privileged enough to be able to go to five of them, and for the All Blacks, one was Wales. Once you make the decision to retire and move on to the next part of your life, you don’t miss the World Cup.
“What you do miss is the camaraderie of the boys, and the coaching staff, and the management. That’s what I miss, and then I went to my first live game the other night in Paris and watched the All Blacks play and there’s a little bit of that gets under the nostrils and you wouldn’t mind being back into that, but you don’t really miss being at a World Cup.
“For me, I can watch it on the telly and get as much enjoyment out of watching the players play well, it was time to hang up the boots.”
Hansen also talked about getting back to the black and how the experience has been.
“Foz asked me ages ago to come down and spend a couple of days so I said yes obviously. I’ve just been around the boys and seeing how they are and how they are coping and talking to the coaches.
“And its like, when I went and visited Australia, that’s like seeing your cousins but this is like seeing your real family, and I think they are in good shape. I think a lot of people have read into the fact they didn’t beat South Africa and they lost to France.
“But reality is they’ve got to make the quarterfinals and that’s going to be a massive game when they do, so nothing has changed.”
Hansen became a top forwards coach which is interesting because he was a back in his playing days.
“It was a necessity actually. I started as a back coach, and then at one point Canary were going on a tour to Argentina, development tour, and I was running the academy and coaching with Lance Stuart, the backs PVC team, and Smithy was about to take over the Crusaders, so they asked if I would take the forwards and go with them.
“It was the best decision that ever happened really, and then I was forced into changing a lot of things, understanding when you are playing the backs, well when I played in the back, so I could look at it and see instantly.”
If he could give a young Steven Hansen any advice, what would it be?
“I didn’t give too much advice to myself when I was younger. I think the biggest thing that trips up young players is they worry too much about selection and they can’t control that. You don’t control selectors, they pick the team. All you can control is your preparation and your performance.
“If you are thinking about it, you are distracted and not actually putting in the effort that you need to make yourself a better player and it plays havoc with your mindset. So for me, my advice for myself and any young player would be don’t worry about selection, you just get yourself ready to play if they pick you, then you are ready to perform.”