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Decision made, now Hansen eyes World Cup

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Lynn McConnell     14 Dec 2018     Getty Images

He's committed himself to giving the All Blacks the best possible chance to claim what would be a hat-trick of World Cup wins by concentrating on that goal and worrying about the future after that.

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"After 16 years it's been wonderful, and a privileged time to be involved in rugby in New Zealand but I think from a New Zealand rugby point of view I think it's fair that I give them the time to have a process that allows them to not rush in finding a replacement," he said when announcing his decision.

"The turbulence of trying to find a replacement straight after a World Cup, whether it's been a good one or a bad one, is not really the way to do the process.

"I'm really pleased about the timing of it. It also allows me not to be distracted by media asking me whether I'm going or staying which is great and we'll be able to concentrate on what we want to do which is try and win a World Cup," he said.

Hansen said his reasons for going, at a time when he appreciated the support he had from New Zealand Rugby and the players, was that it was about the team first and not the individual, and he felt it was right for the team to have someone new.

"Some fresh eyes, some fresh thinking whether that's within or without whoever the replacement is it will be fresh. That'll be great for the enhancement of the legacy of the jersey and that's the most important thing," he said.

His family was the second consideration. They had been 'brilliantly supportive' but it was time to spend more time with them.

Hansen said he had no idea what was next in his life.

His sole focus was next year and trying to retain the Bledisloe Cup and to try and do something which hadn't been done before which was win three World Cups in a row.
"I'm highly-motivated by that, really excited, as are the whole group," he said.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) chairman Brent Impey said Hansen had made a massive contribution and what he had done, and continued to do, with the team was very much appreciated.

Hansen's announcement allowed the NZR to work with certainty in the post-World Cup time and the focus now was on what the board could do to support the team in their quest.

"Once that's over we'll then get into a process," he said.

"We've made a very deliberate move that we're not going to engage in a formal process while we've got the runway through to the end of Tokyo. We don't want any distractions from the team performance then after that we've got time before things kick off in 2020," he said.

They had relationships with all the potential candidates for the role, they would be talking with them and the proper process would start after the World Cup.

NZR chief executive Steve Tew said having worked with Hansen for nearly 20 years that apart from the teams he had coached, whatever organisation he had been in had been enriched because of the interest he took in those groups and the people involved.

What Hansen could be most proud of was growing the special quality that makes the All Blacks different. It was deeper and more authentic, he said.

Hansen said he wouldn't be reflecting on his involvement with the All Blacks since 2004 at this stage. Rather he was making his announcement, getting it out of the way and then moving towards the jobs that had to be done in preparation for next season.
His decision had been made some time ago and it didn't weigh heavily on him because it was the right thing to do.

"I'd like to coach this team for the rest of my living days, but it's not the right thing to do," he said.

A new coach would bring fresh ideas, something different and hopefully that would enhance the side to go to an even higher level, he said.

Hansen would not be endorsing anyone as his successor, that was for NZR to do and his own opinion would not be right for the process, he said.

However, he did say that he didn't agree with the perception that overseas experience or success in New Zealand were prerequisites of the coaching job.

World Rugby's coach of the year Joe Schmidt had developed into a fine coach but he hadn't always got it right and had lost his job at the Blues but that didn't mean he wasn't a good coach. It was the same who said Ian Foster hadn't achieved at the Chiefs. But that was because other teams, notably the Crusaders, were winning Super Rugby titles.

"I go back to my own career, I've got both records. I lost most Tests in a row [with Wales] and I've won the most Tests in a row. Things change and evolve," he said.

Remembering when starting out as a coach at High School Old Boys in Christchurch he said he cringed at some of the things he did, but at that stage that was all he knew.

"You've just got to trust the process and you've just got to trust them that they'll do what's right for the team too. They'll have all the information and they'll put the right person in place," he said.