Hansen gives endorsement for next ABs coach

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster and coach Steve Hansen. Photo: Getty Images
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster and coach Steve Hansen. Photo: Getty Images
Steve Hansen used his final platform as All Blacks head coach to endorse Ian Foster as his successor and detail why he will embrace this next stage of life which allows him to step out of the limelight.

Hansen signed off his All Blacks tenure with the 40-17 victory over Wales to claim the Rugby World Cup bronze medal and soften the blow, somewhat, of last week's semifinal defeat to England. He finishes with 10 losses and four draws from 107 tests for an 86.8 per cent win record, one which was recognised by hundreds of New Zealand supporters who stayed long after the final whistle at Tokyo Stadium.

Foster has been by Hansen's side for the past eight years – through the highs of World Cup success four years ago, and the more recent major challenges of the past two years.

Hansen's belief that his assistant and good friend is ready to step up, just as he did in 2012 when assuming the head coach role from Graham Henry, should come as no surprise but there will be competition from the likes of Scott Robertson and Dave Rennie.

"Because Fozzie has been there for the last eight years and done a fantastic job and understands what happens he's got a good head start on everybody else on what's needed," Hansen said in his final appearance as All Blacks head coach.

"He's known for a long time that I've been leaving and he's put together a very, very strong team I think. If that team comes together they'll have a lot of the ingredients that are needed. It'll be up to the panel to go through all the candidates and assess all the groups and see what they come up with."

Hansen spoke about his belief that similar skillsets needed to be replaced in the coaching team. In his time he compared Foster to Wayne Smith in his analytical computer skills and Aussie McLean to Henry in his devotion to watching rugby in the early hours of the morning.

Asked whether New Zealand Rugby have requested his view on who should succeed him, Hansen said: "No I won't be asked but me being me I'll probably offer an opinion.

"The person has to be able to look at what the job needs.

"Getting the right team is paramount. If you can do that then the job becomes so much easier you're not trying to do everything yourself. If you make that mistake you're going to fail.

"The role of the head coach is to helicopter over the whole group and 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 challenging them to be better and getting them to be demanding of themselves and others around them."

After 19 years on the international coaching circuit, including 11 as head coach having led Wales previously, Hansen will embrace this next chapter that will see him spend time coaching in Japan but also delving into other areas of interest.

"It's not strange, it is a good feeling.

"You live in a world that's got constant pressure in it and that's going to change. Someone else is going to take that role. I don't know how that's going to affect me I hope it's a positive. It's not going to be until we settle down and start living normally again that we work out whether it's good for my health or not."

Above all else, Hansen will miss the camaraderie of working alongside management and players.

"There will be a feeling of emptiness because every day for most of your life – 200 days a year anyway – you're surrounded by a team of young men who have helped keep me young in my thought processes and how I see life.

"It will be different but I think it's important I find other things to do and share a lot of experiences with my family."

He won't, however, long for the regular public appearances attached to the brief of All Blacks head coach.

"Media conferences put you front and centre all the time and that's not really who I am I'm quite a shy person – not many people think that but I am. I like to keep my life to myself. Not having to share my whole life with the rest of the world will be great. I won't miss that, and I especially won't miss having to put my family through that."

 

 

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