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Hansen pays tribute to Read's season

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Sportal.co.nz     29 Nov 2013     Getty Images

Speaking on the IRB's Total Rugby radio show Hansen said Read had enjoyed a fantastic year and had developed not only as a player but as a leader.

"He led the team very, very well when Richard [McCaw] was out and I think he grew from that experience but he can play the game and he's got a mental fortitude that is up there with all the good world-class players.

"At the moment I think he probably is the No.1 player in the world," he said.

No.8 was a position with a great history in All Blacks rugby starting from Sir Brian Lochore and moving through Wayne Shelford and Zinzan Brooke and Read was up there in their company, he said.

Hansen also explained the raison d'etre behind the All Blacks record-breaking unbeaten season, and All Blacks rugby generally.

"The All Blacks are expected to win every game so you don't get the luxury of going World Cup to World Cup and we wouldn't want it any other way. Our fans set a very high expectation then the players have got to come in, and the management crew have got to come in over the top of that with their own expectations even higher.

"As a result you get a pretty consistent performance from the team over many, many years," he said.

There was a danger of looking too far ahead but you had the double requirement of planning for the future but also having to get the job done on the day.

Hansen said there was a difference between being the top coach and being an assistant. They was to recognise the difference and then to do the expected roles. Sometimes being the underling meant rattling cages and upsetting the odd person while the No.1 person's role was to facilitate and bring everyone together.

"They're different roles but I think they're doable by any people who have got the skills to do them," he said.

The legacy the All Blacks enjoyed was such that newcomers quickly came to appreciate the importance it had to the team and Hansen said it was understood by all involved in the side, playing and managing, that they were just 'passing through' and had the attitude of trying to leave the team better than they found it.

"The jersey won't stand up on its own, it needs people to fill it up and do the right thing," he said.