Business Day

Hansen signs up to take All Blacks to 2015 World Cup

- GREG STUTCHBURY Wellington

STEVE Hansen has signed a contract to coach the All Blacks until the 2015 World Cup, but several of the players who won the Webb Ellis trophy in 2011 may not be in England to defend it, the coach said yesterday.

Hansen, who was appointed to the job in 2011, received a huge boost of support from the New Zealand Rugby Union yesterday when they extended his initial two-year contract until the global showpiece in England in 2015.

The former Wales coach and long-time assistant to Graham Henry introduced nine new caps into the All Blacks last year as he balanced the team’s expectatio­n of winning consistent­ly with introducin­g new blood to defend the Webb Ellis trophy.

The 53-year-old Hansen, however, said he would increase the pace of rejuvenati­on of the squad this year if several of his stalwarts were not performing on the field.

“It’s well publicised we have an aging leadership group and … there are a lot of people in the group who want to be in the World Cup squad and some of them aren’t going to make it.

“We have to get our balance right in the next two or three years so that if they don’t make it we have the right people in place to take their place and produce the

It would be too easy to go with some of the older guys, but we have to look to the future at some … younger guys

rugby performanc­e we are after,” Hansen said.

The core group of the 2011 World Cup-winning team are now all above 30 or have left to play abroad, while three stalwarts — Ma’a Nonu, Tony Woodcock and Andrew Hore — are all underperfo­rming in Super Rugby.

Flyhalf Daniel Carter, whom Hansen said was a “red flag athlete” last year in terms of how his game time was managed looking towards the 2015 World Cup, has also suffered several longterm and persistent injuries.

Hansen said he would reexamine the leadership group within the side and introduce younger players so they were ready to take responsibi­lity when their first game at the 2015 tournament rolled around.

“We need to be really bold. It would be too easy to go with some of the older guys, but we have to look to the future at some of the younger guys,” Hansen said.

“Without naming names now, because we haven’t named the team, that’s the approach we are looking at. People who may not have necessaril­y played 50 or 60 Tests. It could be someone who has played four or five, or under 20, but by the time they get to the World Cup that’s what they would have played.”

Hansen said the transition would be sparked by form alone.

“That’s the million-dollar question. When do you do it? And when do you shut the dream off for some of those older guys? Some of those guys will make it, some won’t,” he said.

“We need to do due diligence on our selection processes and have the conversati­ons we need to have. It’ll become obvious when we need to make changes. If the player’s form is suggesting it’s time, it’s time.” Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa