AUCKLAND, New Zealand – All Blacks coach Steve Hansen highlighted the special qualities his side are exhibiting in their rugby after they wrapped up the Bledisloe Cup for another year following their 40-12 win over Australia at Eden Park on Saturday.
In five, 10 or 20 years people would look back and recognise the side were a special group, he said, and they had dominated the turnovers in the Investec Rugby Championship Tests while adding their set-piece lineout play on Saturday.
That needed to be considered when thinking about Australia's situation, he said. With their coach Michael Cheika facing pressure due to the losses, Hansen said the Wallabies were not a poor team because they had lost to the All Blacks. "I don't think it should put a coach under pressure just losing to us," he said.
Hansen took the chance of a Prime Ministerial visit to the dressing room after the game to plug the value of the All Blacks to the country. Accompanying the Prime Minister was deputy leader and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson.
Hansen said he told Robertson the government should be the All Blacks' biggest sponsor because they were the government's biggest brand. He asked him if they could find some money to help New Zealand rugby compete against the likes of England and France so they could keep their players.
There hadn't been a lot said after that, Hansen said. But he said it had been good to have the country's leaders in the dressing room as it had been when John Key was Prime Minister.
Hansen said Jacinda Adern had been very respectful of the All Blacks and was aware they needed to get changed but Hansen said he told her not to worry as they wouldn't change while she was there and she should get to know them.
"If you think about the All Blacks and the brand it's important we represent New Zealand really well and she leads our country so we respect her immensely. It's important she gets to know the people that are representing the country in a black shirt and it was nice to see her tonight in the Black Ferns jersey," he said.
Hansen did savour the side's win: "I thought it was a pretty special performance by the team. One of the hardest things in sport is to back up a scoreboard dominant win which we got in the first Test. Our performance wasn't that great but we managed the scoreboard well in the first Test but tonight we had to come back out and earn it again. We had to work hard. Australia, I thought, played well in patches and the boys got better and better as the night went on."
African News Agency (ANA)