Hansen approaches coaching deadline
Steve Hansen will decide after the All Blacks’ northern tour whether he wants to continue coaching after the 2019 World Cup.
Hansen, 59, has been in charge of the All Blacks since 2012 and his contract with NZ Rugby expires after the global tournament in Japan. If he does want to stay in the high-pressure job, and was reappointed by the NZ Rugby board, his tenure would eclipse that of predecessor Graham Henry, who was head coach for a record eight years.
‘‘I haven’t even spent too much time thinking about it,’’ Hansen said in London. ‘‘I will get this tour out of the way and then we will sit down and make some decisions, and one way or another, we will let the world know what is happening.’’
If Hansen wants to continue, he will use his record of success to present a very compelling argument; under his watch the All Blacks have won over 90 per cent of their games, he guided the team to a successful defence of the World Cup in 2015 and has the knack of converting talented young men into test players.
He joined he All Blacks in 2004 when Henry invited him to move back from Wales, where he was coaching the national team, to mentor the forwards. Hansen is now in his seventh year as head coach.
How long can he continue to stay in one of the most scrutinised jobs in New Zealand, juggling the multiple tasks required to ensure the team remains successful?
‘‘That’s the $64 million question isn’t it?’’ he says. ‘‘You have got to keep doing it as long as you are enjoying it, as long as you are adding value. As long your family can cope with it, I guess.’’
Being in charge of another country’s test side doesn’t appeal. ‘‘If I didn’t want to stay coaching the All Blacks, then I can’t see myself coaching another international team in the near future.
‘‘I would be better off staying where I am; it doesn’t matter what team you coach, the time commitments and pressures are pretty similar. I couldn’t see any point in doing that.’’
It has been reported that England coach Eddie Jones can work up to 18 hours a day. Hansen says he clocks off earlier than that, but agrees the occupation can be all consuming.
‘‘It’s a job you can’t get away from. It’s with you all the time, you have just got to learn to switch on and switch off. That is really important. I am lucky I have a young family and when I am home, you make sure you have got structures in place to allow you to be present with my wife, Tash, and the kids. To normalise every day.’’
The pressure of being coach of the All Blacks, named World Rugby’s team of the year a record nine times, is always there. It’s how the person deals with it that makes a difference to those around him.
‘‘Learning to cope with it is a necessity,’’ Hansen says.
‘‘Because it can wear you down. I think what is addictive is the high of the big stadiums and the big contests, but until you have really done the job – people don’t understand fully the pressures of it and where the pressures come from.
‘‘You go out for a cup of coffee and people want a bit of your time which is understandable because you are coaching a national team.
‘‘You would never begrudge people that but when it is happening all the time, the family find it tough.’’
There are moments, he says, when it can be beneficial to ‘‘vent’’ – to get things off his chest. The key, he said, was to make sure the person on the receiving end knew the rules of engagement.
‘‘You go into it saying ‘I need to vent for five minutes and don’t need you to find me a solution and I don’t want a solution. I just want a vent’.
‘‘I think that is healthy. I have had plenty of people come to me and say the same thing.
‘‘I understand it is not always going to be perfect, it is not always going to be without its up and downs. But it is how you deal with those things.’’
‘‘It’s a job you can’t get away from. It’s with you all the time...’’
Steve Hansen watches on as the All Blacks go through their paces at training.