All Blacks coach pays tribute to Sir John Graham

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Lynn McConnell     03 Aug 2017     Getty Images

Hansen said the All Blacks learned with 'great sadness' on Thursday morning of Graham's death.

Graham was an All Black from 1958-64 and both a coach and administrator once his playing career was completed.

"He was a great New Zealand man, a great friend of rugby, cricket, Auckland Grammar and it was particularly sad because there were so many in the All Blacks team who he had helped along the way," Hansen said.

"I know he spent a lot of time with Fossie [Ian Foster], with Gilbert [Enoka] when he was with New Zealand Cricket as manager and certainly he was a good mentor for me when I first came into the All Blacks.

"We would like to pass on our condolences to Sheila and the rest of the family and tell them that we are thinking of them and sending all our love and prayers," he said.

Hansen said he and Graham had talked over cups of tea or coffee about what it was like to be in the All Blacks and he had come in contact with Graham during his time as a Crusaders coach when he used to do the end-of-year interviews with Sir Brian Lochore and the local Crusaders people.

"He always had a wise word and good counselling about how to cope with things that weren't probably the way you would like them to be. He was just a good man," he said.

Hansen said Graham was so well liked and cared about people, New Zealand and his family and sport, and was passionate about them all.

"He spent a lot of time trying to make young men into better men, as a principal, as a cricket manager and as president of the Rugby Union and I think that is something he will always be remembered for.

"You never left his conversation being unsure what he meant. He had his style and it was reasonably direct, if he needed to it would be straight between the eyes. But he was always supportive and he always found the positives," he said.