Steve Hansen dealt out some gentle advice to Michael Cheika after the Wallabies were defeated in their second Test against Eddie Jones’ England.
Noting that Jones and Cheika were former teammates, he observed that Jones’ larger than life, aggressive media presence in Australia had been met by exactly nothing from the Wallabies boss (via RTÉ).
“Cheika’s not come back, he’s letting Eddie have a free rein – to the point where it actually seems like he’s letting Eddie bully him in the media.
“I don’t know if that’s because they know each other that well, or if there’s a pecking order from the old days. That’s gone on to the park, hasn’t it?”
When Hansen took over New Zealand’s most high pressure role (apologies to the PM) in 2008, he introduced his previously hidden, dry as a dead dingo’s donger sense of humour to the media.
As his exemplary results added gravitas to his reputation, he also added Yoda-like musings on rugby, life and the greater universe.
Let’s enjoy six of the best from Hansen:
“If you can’t change the man, change the man.”
One overlooked aspect of Hansen’s reign is the scandal-free behaviour of the All Blacks. Hansen has an uncanny ability to tap into individuals and judge where they are in terms of psychological and physical readiness for Test match rugby.
He has strong loyalty but, as Julian Savea has found out recently, his patience has limits.
“Worry is a wasted emotion.”
The All Blacks’ phenomenal record coming from behind to overrun the opposition in the second half of matches is as much about mental ‘we can do this’ as it is about physical conditioning and skills.
Gilbert Enoka, now employed full-time as the All Blacks’ mental skills coach is the man credited with transforming the All Blacks from ‘chokers’ to, well, chokers in the active sense.
“Just my arm.”
Hansen’s tinder-dry reply to a reporter’s question whether he had any more tricks up his sleeve following the All Blacks’ 62-13 demolition of France in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final.
“There has been a great relationship between the two countries for a long, long time and, apart from the Rainbow Warrior, we’ve probably been on the same page most of the time.”
Hansen on the generally convivial Franco-New Zealand diplomatic relationship, which was briefly blighted by the French secret service’s bombing of the New Zealand Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, in 1985. Wayne Barnes, there’s a long road to forgiveness ahead.
“I was never good enough to play for the All Blacks. I’d give up everything I’ve done in coaching to play one game. And most people would say I’d be lucky. He’s played a hundred.”
Hansen commenting on Ma’a Nonu’s 100th game for the ABs, reflecting Hansen’s veneration of the history and status of the All Blacks.
“We are the most dominant team in the history of the world.”
This motivational mantra may or may not have been written by Hansen, but the fact it was written on a whiteboard for a team meeting in England in 2013 showed considerable prescience.
In 56 games under Hansen’s watch only three have ended in defeat.
Kaal Kaczmarek, Pundit Arena
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