Steve Hansen's parting thoughts

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Hansen said the day after the All Blacks secured their bronze medal 40-17 win over Wales in Japan that it had been a much better way to farewell some of the legends of the game in Kieran Read, Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty and Ben Smith than it would have been a week earlier.


He didn't include himself in that but the connection was there.


It was a good feeling knowing his time was over, he said. It had been a good ride but he knew it was the right time to finish.


"You live in a world that has constant pressure in it, and that's going to change. Someone else is going to take that role. I don't know how that is going to affect me. It is a positive. But I don't think you even know how much pressure you are under because you are in it every day.


"Nineteen years as an international coach and 11 of them as a head coach. There wasn't any less pressure in Wales to be quite frank. It was full on when we were there. It just becomes part of your life," he said.


The World Cup had still been successful for the side and they had just chosen the wrong day to have a bad day.


"We had an opponent who were hungry and had a lot of pain from the previous tournament. It's not a coincidence that if you go back through World Cup history how many teams have suffered some adversity the previous tournament have come out and won the next one," he said.


Hansen celebrated his final game by not doing one of his regular jobs before a Test. It had been his usual practice to take his hard drive to games where he would give it to an analyst to look after, but he didn't take it to the Wales game, it was someone else's problem now, he said.


Hansen said he felt it was paramount that coach needed to get the right team around him.


"If you can do that the job becomes so much easier, you're not trying to do everything yourself because if you make that mistake you're not going to succeed, you're going to fail.


"The role of the head coach is to helicopter over the whole group, have an understanding of every area of our business and then select the right people to do that job and let them get on with it and along the way quietly nudge them and challenge them to be better and get them to have a voice where they are demanding of themselves and others around them," he said.


Reflecting on the effect of his time as coach he said in some areas he had changed massively but in other areas he hoped he hadn't changed a bit. He didn't think he had lost his sense of humour but he felt he had more empathy with what was required for the job.


"Maybe that's for other people to say but I'd like to think I'm the same Steve Hansen that took over the job," he said.


Hansen said he wasn't sure what he would be doing in the future. He hadn't signed anything, he didn't know what the job entailed or what it was called.


One of the things he was proudest of was working with a team where players were prepared to stand up and say what they thought about their team. That showed they were committed and that was something that was important whether they were Generation Y or Z. Some needed a cuddle, some needed a push and some needed a bit of both.


Hansen expanded on his views on the Six Nations and how they were holding back the development of the world game.


He had been involved in the competition when coaching Wales and he said it was a fantastic tournament. Some felt if they moved it from the time it was played then something would be lost.


But he said the tournament could be played at any time and the same following would occur.


"However, I think they're stuck on the tradition of playing it when they do and tradition is a fine thing as long as it doesn't get in the way of progress. Therefore, we've got to get the powers that be up there to see that if we are prepared to shift that tournament we could get a global season.


"That would be wonderful; a - for the welfare of the players, b - for the continuity of how we could set up competitions which the fanbase would love. Imagine the European Cup winner playing the Super Rugby winner. Crusaders vs Saracens – that would be a massive game and one that would create world-wide interest. There's just no time in the world calendar for it," he said.


Without the necessary changes it would be to the detriment of the game.


Hansen said career highlights covered a wide range of achievements but what gave him most satisfaction was seeing someone achieve something that he may not have been able to do until you gave him the belief or taught him a trick or you played a small part in him doing that was a great feeling.


"Our game is a wonderful game. I keep saying that. The game is bigger than the individual, the game is bigger than the All Blacks, Australia or England because it creates so many wonderful things out of it; friendships, dreams, the opportunities to perform on stages like we have been over the last four or five weeks," he said.


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