Hansen farewells long-time rugby mate

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Lynn McConnell     19 Oct 2017     Getty Images

From the time they first played alongside each other in Canterbury, through to their respective coaching careers with both forsaking overseas coaching jobs to return to New Zealand, decisions which had seen them both secure two World Cup-winning medals with the All Blacks and see New Zealand achieve a position of absolute dominance in the world game, they had been jointly committed to the cause.

As one who had played 25 Tests for the All Blacks, which was a lot in the amateur era, Smith was an inventive player, something Hansen had experienced on the field with him.

"He had his own quirks but he was inventive, and he carried that innovation into his coaching. He's never sat still as a coach, he's always been very passionate about it.

"I remember when I actually played under him, as well as with him, and during that period you'd always have to calm him down a little early on in his coaching career but it was all about the passion of the job and the people he was working with, and the jersey that he was coaching for," Hansen said.

"That's never left him. I think he has been world-leading in how to use technology, he's never been afraid of it. He's never been afraid of feed back or feed forward depending on how you like to hear it, so that has made him someone special to coach with and against.

"He's very open-minded, he shares things and he has the same belief as me that if you share things, you'll get things back, and then it's a challenge as to who can do it best.

"So he's been great that way, he's been good with young players, good at identifying talent and from a coaching point of view.

"How has he helped me? Well, all those things I've talked about make you understand the qualities you need to be a good coach.

"He's pushed me in ways he probably doesn't even know he's pushed me and it's been a pleasure to coach with him. I haven't had too many disagreements – both of us are still here so we've survived them and it's always good to be able to coach with people you can trust. And there's plenty of trust there.

"It'll be a big day for him come Saturday. He won't be defined by whatever happens Saturday. He's been a great coach. He's done something magnificently for the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby, and probably world rugby. We can all be proud of him," he said.

At the same time Hansen was asked for his opinion on the appointment of former All Black Brad Thorn to the Reds coaching role and responded by saying he knew Thorn was 'a pretty thorough bloke' who had the makings of a really good coach.

"If he's given the time to be able to develop the skills that he does have and grow some more, as we all do when we start coaching, we don't have all the tools in the toolbox, but he's certainly a guy who will have the work ethic and the thought process to try and get where he needs to get to.

"Already we've seen that in the jobs he's done, he's been reasonably successful with those teams.

"He's a pretty focused bloke. Once he gets on the railroad track he's pretty hard to get off it so I look forward to watching him and seeing him grow and become as good a coach as he was player. I hope it goes really well for him, he's a good man," he said.