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All Blacks coach has popped out some neat one-liners at RWC

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has come up with some neat one-liners at Rugby World Cup

All Blacks coach has popped out some neat one-liners at RWC

LONDON (AP) -- Steve Hansen is up out of his chair and pumping his fist.

He isn't usually that animated in the coaches' box but, in the circumstances, he couldn't hold back his bliss as his All Blacks were ripping France to shreds in their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal in Cardiff, exorcizing the seismic loss to the Tricolors in the same stadium at the same stage eight years ago.

Often shown on television during a match, the New Zealand coach can look almost bored. But that's just his game face, he says, and he's not as stoic as he makes out to be.

"There's a lot of tension going on inside," Hansen says. "There's nothing you can do, you've just got to sit there.

"If you've got to make any decisions, like substitutes, you've got to be clear, so you're trying to deliberately stay calm. But there's a little bit of the duck under the water, the legs are paddling away at a million miles an hour. At the end of the day, you've just got to trust, and keep your belief, that things will pan out."

Things have panned out for the All Blacks so far, as they seek to become the first team to win consecutive Rugby World Cups on Saturday, when they meet Australia in the final at Twickenham.

They have also won over fans off the field since arriving in England, in being charming, humble, confident, gracious winners, pragmatic, and prickly when poked.

In that regard, Hansen has led the way. Thanks to a relaxed attitude, on the outside at least, his news conferences have been among the most entertaining.

Here's some highlights:

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After the opening win over Argentina, Hansen is having trouble with his translation headset. Beside him is Richie McCaw, who reaches over to try to fix it.

"Here, put it on channel one," McCaw says.

"I have got it on channel one ... (expletive)," he tells McCaw with a smile, "that's the volume."

"Oh, sorry," McCaw says with a playful grimace.

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On how confident he is after meeting with referees that they will do as they say:

"Why don't you give me a shotgun and tell me to shoot myself? All I know is that the game is extremely difficult to ref. They're going to miss some things and they'll make mistakes, just as I do as coach, and as the players do, but if they are consistent then nobody has any complaints."

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After Ma'a Nonu's 100th cap for the All Blacks:

"I was never good enough to play for the All Blacks. I'd give up everything I've done in coaching to play one game. And most people would say I'd be lucky. He's played a hundred."

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On the relationship between France and New Zealand:

"There has been a great relationship between the two countries for a long, long time and, apart from the Rainbow Warrior, we've probably been on the same page most of the time."

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On northern hemisphere rugby, and whether it is possible to have a strong domestic league and a strong national team:

"That's difficult if you are not on the same page. I am not sure whether in France the two organizations are on the same page. You need to have the same goals and the same vision. There are a lot of foreign players in the Top 14 and that means there are a lot of French players who are not getting the chance to grow and develop. It's not my country, and I shouldn't say too much, but if you want to be successful at international level you have to be united from the top down. I am not sure whether they are in France.

"You only have to look at the soccer model that rugby up here follows, and England haven't won anything for years. Yet they have the best league in the world. They have the greatest players, and most of the top players are playing here in England. That doesn't reflect on the international team."

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On South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer's unabashed passion and hyperactivity in the coaches' box:

"If I did that, I would have a heart attack. I don't know how he hasn't had one."

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To northern hemisphere critics of the southern hemisphere's annual showpieces, Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship:

"Our Super competition gets a rough time at times, about how it's soft and how we throw the ball around. But it develops a style of rugby player who has to be physical, and who can play running rugby, too. If you look at the three teams, they are different. When you play South Africa, you have to be physical. When you play Australia, you come up against a highly skilled team who like to play running rugby and you have to be able to combat that. Then, you've got New Zealand, who have a little bit of both.

"The Rugby Championship has been given a few smacks from up this way. It's actually a really, really physical competition. If you haven't got physicality, you can't play it. And if you are not skilled, you can't play it."

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Asked what more he has up his sleeve:

"Just my arm."


Updated : 2021-09-17 21:12 GMT+08:00