Wales challenge test for All Blacks' character - Hansen

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Once the game was over he would look to help the players deal with whatever might have happened in the game, positively or negatively.

 

"After that, I'm off somewhere else, we all know where that is, and I'll have plenty of time to reflect on things with a cold beer and a hot towel," he said.

 

After their semifinal loss to England, Hansen said the week had been about getting the players back to trying to be the best they could be.

 

"By doing that we show ourselves, our teammates and country that we have character. It is easy to have character when you win all the time, because it is not tested.

 

"And our character has been tested this week. It's really the most important thing we can do now is we can show if your character is tested you can stand up to it and then, that's success. That's the greatest success we can take out of this tournament. It's the greatest success we can show young people in New Zealand who want to be aspiring All Blacks, or aspiring anything, you've gotta have character.

 

"Success creates a lot of perception but it is not always true. There's a perception out there that I'm a great coach, that's only because we've won a lot of games. There's not that many people that know whether I'm a great coach or not because they haven't been in our environment. And success has created that perception.

 

"But your real character comes out when you are under pressure and that's going to be the exciting thing about Friday, how we respond to that," he said.

 

Hansen said all the key indicators were the team was in a good place for the game.

 

"I'm proud of the fact they've picked themselves off the floor," he said.

 

Wales would be a tough challenge.

 

"The opposition coming to the World Cup were No 1 in the world. It's quite unique that we will have played England, Ireland, Wales, South Africa and we will get a good reflection of where we are," he said.

 

Halfback Aaron Smith said there had been a lot of pain when the side went through their review and while the semifinal loss still hurt the side had one last chance before they could switch off for the summer.

 

"We're lucky to pull the black jersey on again and play against a quality Welsh team. It will be the last time this year. We have some quality men leaving, and we owe them a good send off and a lot of my energy will be put into doing my job for the team," he said.

 

Smith said he was keen to try and play in the 2023 World Cup in France but it would be determined by how he was mentally and physically. He was on a two-year contract at the moment.

 

Smith said he had enjoyed his eight or nine years with Hansen.

 

"He will tell you something but will get you to figure it out and that's something I really enjoy. He doesn't tell you the answer, he gets you to talk it and to get to his point. I love his belief in you. He is tough on you at the start of the week, but come the captain's run, and game day, he makes you feel a million bucks and want to go out there and play for him. It gets me sad thinking this weekend is my last time but you never know," he said.

 

First five-eighths Richie Mo'unga said there had been a lot of lessons during the week after the toughest loss he had suffered in rugby.

 

But he still had a lot of rugby ahead of him and while the game review had been tough, they had put that behind them and were looking forward to Friday's game.

 

Mo'unga was also looking forward to playing one more time with Crusaders' teammate No 8 Kieran Read.

 

"He's a very special person, unique in the way he leads. The respect he has from players and staff, and what he adds on and off the field. He's someone I've looked up to him ever since I've been in a pro rugby environment. To see the way he operates as a leader is inspirational, one of the greats," he said.

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