Hansen ap­proaches coach­ing dead­line

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT - Richard Knowler richard.knowler@stuff.co.nz

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...’’

GETTY IM­AGES

Steve Hansen watches on as the All Blacks go through their paces at train­ing.

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