New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew
says it's only now that we are beginning to see the "real"
That, says Tew, is an All Blacks coach who is honest,
forthright, loyal and funny. And boy, didn't we see all of
those characteristics in Sky Television's documentary The
Weight of a Nation which screened on Sunday night.
Hansen, one of Sir Graham Henry's assistants during a
tournament which culminated in an agonising final victory
over France, was the star of a film which included such
heavyweights as Henry and captain Richie McCaw.
His comments about Wallabies rival Robbie Deans wishing to
appear as a "martyr" when failing to get the All Blacks
coaching job after the 2007 World Cup have not surprising
made headlines here and across the Tasman.
How the interviewer posed the questions in the film, which
was broadcast on Sunday night, isn't known, but the answers
look stark in black and white and are the continuation of a
mutual loathing which goes back more than 15 years.
Honest? Sure. Willing to bury the hatchet in an otherwise
rosy retrospective? Not likely.
"If you want my honest opinion, I don't think Robbie wanted
it [the All Blacks job] anyway," Hansen said. "I think Robbie
had already signed for Australia.
"I think he just went through the motions and wanted to be
the martyr if he didn't get it, so he wins on both sides of
the table. That's how I felt about it because you don't go to
a [New Zealand Rugby Union] selection meeting and when asked,
'Who are going to be your running mates?' - knowing that the
opposition [Sir Graham Henry] has got two pretty good
candidates [Hansen and Wayne Smith] behind him - with a wishy
washy answer. He did.
"And that's why he lost the job, from my understanding. So,
did he really want the job?"
If Deans, under pressure due to a lack of results and rumours
about tensions within the Wallabies, keeps his job after next
year's British and Irish Lions tour, that little soundbite is
bound to be repeated before the Bledisloe Cup series.
Hansen won't care too much. His humour is well-known to his
players and friends and he has shared more of that with the
media, and by extension the public, this year. But there is
no doubting his hard edge, as the Deans comments show.
Tew, a good mate of Hansen's, said yesterday the All Blacks
coach was finally letting his guard down.
"He's become much more confident and open with you guys
[media] and I think we've seen the real Steve Hansen come out
which is something actually that I've been seeking to happen
for some time.
"But he's also had a very good year, so the test will be if
we have a more challenging set of results, won't it, because
that's when you have to deal with the more challenging side
of the media. But Steve is a very confident and I think he's
a very humorous individual and ... we're just seeing a bit
more of the normal Steve Hansen ..."
That's a Hansen prepared to become surprisingly emotional on
camera about the relief he felt on his team winning last
year's final and the joy it gave the New Zealand public - but
ruthless at the same time.
A parting shot? Referring to Quade Cooper's willingness to
target McCaw with cheap shots leading up to the World Cup, he
said: "I think the players think, who do you think you are
carrying on like that? It's not the way New Zealanders