Hansen flow­er­ing as a coach

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

It was heart­en­ing to hear the other day that the New Zealand Rugby Union wants to ex­tend All Black coach Steve Hansen’s con­tract beyond the 2015 World Cup.

There’s none of the usual Rugby Union cau­tion about wait­ing for World Cup re­sults.

Rugby Union boss Steve Tew knows he’s on to a good thing and is al­ready chas­ing Hansen’s sig­na­ture.

Hansen, Shag to his mates, has proved a rev­e­la­tion since suc­ceed­ing Graham Henry as All Black coach in 2012.

The big guy – it’s dif­fi­cult to be­lieve he played 21 games for Can­ter­bury at cen­tre – has loos­ened up and his sense of hu­mour has flowered.

With­out be­ing a head­linechaser, he has plenty to say on a va­ri­ety of sub­jects.

Af­ter ref­eree Jaco Peyper’s shocker in the All Black­sWal­la­bies draw in Au­gust, he blamed his team for its fail­ings, but spoke can­didly about a dis­cus­sion he’d had with Peyper, dur­ing which the ref­eree con­ceded he’d made crit­i­cal mis­takes.

Hansen waded into the dis­cus­sion about how Ju­lian Savea and Jonah Lomu stack up as play­ers, opt­ing for Savea, who he feels has more all-round skills.

Last week, in the build-up to Richie McCaw’s 100th test as All Black cap­tain, he spoke about the young McCaw an­noy­ing se­nior Can­ter­bury play­ers at train­ing by con­stantly steal­ing the loose ball in rucks.

Todd Black­ad­der, Reuben Thorne, Scott Robert­son and An­gus Gar­diner de­manded Hansen tell McCaw to curb his en­thu­si­asm or they might have to give the up­start a slap.

‘‘ They said, ‘ Look, if he comes into another ruck and pinches another ball we’re go­ing to snot him’,’’ Hansen re­called.

‘‘I said, ‘If you snot him, I’ll be snot­ting the lot of you.

‘‘ Leave him alone. He’s only a baby. Look af­ter him and get there quicker than he is’.’’

Al­ways rugby-mad, Hansen was des­per­ate to be an All Black, but wasn’t good enough, so went the coach­ing route, ini­tially while con­tin­u­ing his job as a po­lice­man and later full­time.

He had suc­cess with Can­ter­bury, win­ning two na­tional cham­pi­onships, and as Rob­bie Deans’ as­sis­tant with the Cru­saders. But when he be­came Wales coach in 2002, he learnt a lot more, at one point stag­ger­ing through 11 suc­ces­sive test de­feats.

Back in New Zealand, he be­came an All Black se­lec­tor in 2004 and ex­pe­ri­enced the hor­ror of the All Blacks’ quar­ter­fi­nal de­feat by France at the 2007 World Cup.

Those re­verses have moulded him into a more rounded and un­der­stand­ing per­son and coach.

For ex­am­ple, he said of deal­ing with play­ers: ‘‘ Some you’ve got to hug, some you’ve got to kick, some you’ve got to do a bit of both.

‘‘The most im­por­tant thing is you’ve got to be aware they’re all sub­tly dif­fer­ent.’’

Hansen has been an im­mensely suc­cess­ful All Black coach, with 38 wins, two draws and two losses in his 42 tests, a win­ning per­cent­age of 90.5.

Only Fred Allen, un­beaten in 14 tests, ranks higher of long-term coaches, and Allen never coached against South Africa.

Other re­cent All Black coaches’ win­ning per­cent­ages were Alex Wyl­lie 86.2, Lau­rie Mains 67.6, John Hart 75.6, Wayne Smith 70.6, John Mitchell 82.2 and Henry 85.4, so Hansen is in a rar­efied at­mos­phere.

No won­der the Rugby Union is keen to keep him.

Photo: GETTY

Top team: Steve Hansen, right, and his long-serv­ing cap­tain, Richie McCaw, dur­ing the north­ern hemi­sphere tour.

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