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Hansen Happy As Assistant

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Steve Hanson. Pic: NZPA
Steve Hanson. Pic: NZPA

Wellington, July 10 NZPA - Steve Hansen is content to remain as All Blacks assistant coach, watering down years of rugby innuendo that he has designs on the top job.

Hansen and fellow-assistant Wayne Smith will support head coach Graham Henry through to the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, following an announcement yesterday that the trio's contracts had been extended by two more years.

When the trio were reappointed after their 2007 World Cup failure, there was much speculation that Henry would hold the reins for only two years while grooming Hansen for the role.

Former Welsh head coach Hansen was evasive when asked if he wanted the equivalent role with the All Blacks.

"I've never been given the opportunity to be the head coach so it's not an issue," Hansen told NZPA.

"The issue is `am I happy to be in this coaching team and to do the role that I do?' The answer is yes.

"I enjoy coaching with both Wayne and Graham and I love the All Blacks. There's no greater job in New Zealand if you're into your rugby. There's no greater job in the world really."

Hansen said the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) offer to extend the trio's contracts arrived before he truly had a chance to consider his options beyond this year.

He believed the All Blacks' chance of success at the next World Cup was best served by retaining the same coaching team and didn't want to be the one to break up the combination.

"There's always interest overseas. There's always jobs coming up and people asking if you're interested," he said.

"But at this stage, the best thing for New Zealand rugby is to stay working with these guys rather than me go off somewhere and be a head coach.

"It's a decision I took some time to think about but it's one I'm happy to have made."

Last year Hansen sought permission from the NZRU to pursue the Crusaders' head coaching role made vacant by Robbie Deans.

However, the NZRU declined his request, ruling he couldn't do justice to his All Blacks' role simultaneously.

Hansen accepted the decision although he still believed there should be scope for an All Blacks' assistant to enhance his coaching skills on a different stage.

"In theory, that's probably correct but when do you get the opportunity?" he said.

"It would be nice if you could drop down and work with the Junior All Blacks but that programme's at the same time as the June tests. Practically it just doesn't seem to work."

Hansen said he and Smith were granted enough coaching time by Henry to make the assistant roles satisfying. They also had a strong voice at the selection and tactics tables.

A regular critic of the New Zealand media's reporting of the All Blacks, Hansen said it wasn't enough to deter him from extending his role.

"You know what's going to happen when you take on this job but it doesn't necessarily make it right," he said.

"If you listen to all the so-called expert opinion then it would drive you nuts. But the external expectations are nowhere near as high as the internal ones."

Hansen said it was easy to stand back and be critical of the national team but seemingly not so easy to be reasoned when things were not going well.

"Our media are pretty quick at chopping down any tall poppies and it's something as a nation that we've got to change.

"We've got to stop making ourselves look tall by making someone else look small."

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