All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says that he is focused on ensuring success in the Rugby Championship and World Cup and is not focused on life after his contract is up.
New Zealand Rugby have seemingly set themselves to bring in a fresh face regardless of what happens at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Hansen’s assistant Ian Foster is expected to be handed the head coach job after the World Cup in Japan. Should things not go to plan for the All Blacks, however, Foster could be left out in the cold.
Hansen not dreaming of retirement beer yet
During his time as coach Hansen has ensured the All Blacks have remained the number one ranked Test rugby side, but some cracks have appeared in the team’s invincible aura.
Hansen insists he is fully focused on a strong finish to his time as All Blacks coach.
“It’s a privilege to be part of the All Blacks and my part is the head coach so it’s really important that I turn up and do the job and be present and not worrying about what’s going to happen after the World Cup.
“Right now we’ve got two weeks to get ready for Argentina so it’s pretty important I don’t get too carried away with last hurrahs. Let’s just enjoy what we’re doing and get really excited about that and do it really, really well. We’ll have a beer after it’s all over and then it’ll be good,” he said.
Hansen announced his Rugby Championship squad earlier this week and has spent some time with the group in Auckland setting the tone for the international season.
“There was some new stuff that we wanted to work away quietly at today [Thursday] which we did, making sure that we’ve got the basics of our game understood and the clarity of our game,” he said.
Three-in-a-row the focus for All Blacks
The All Blacks have had to make some sacrifices for the opening two rounds of the Rugby Championship, with Crusaders players not being made available. The Crusaders play the Jaguares in the Super Rugby final on Saturday. A large part of that Jagaures squad could be expected to be in action for Argentina in the opening rounds.
Hansen said that the focus this year is on being in good shape for the Rugby World Cup, giving the Championship lower priority.
“We’ve got to go and recapture it. We don’t own the World Cup so it’s been given back and we’ve now got to go there and play the best that we can and do our best to recapture the thing so we have to walk towards that pressure rather than try to hide away from it.
“But the reality is we’ve still got Test matches to play. The key challenge for us is to play good footy, winning footy, but to start to really master the execution of our game and the things we are trying to do on the park get better and better at that and to do that we’ve got to have really good decision-making and good skill sets to go through that.
“I don’t think we’ll set the world on fire but I know whatever we do we in that first Test we will do better in the second, third, fourth and fifth ones. We won’t panic too much about getting everything right but there is some things we will really identify that we want to get right,” The All Blacks coach said.
All Blacks Rugby Championship training squad
Asafo Aumua (22, Hurricanes / Wellington, uncapped)
Dane Coles (32, Hurricanes / Wellington, 60)
Liam Coltman (29, Highlanders / Otago, 4)
Codie Taylor (28, Crusaders / Canterbury, 41)
Owen Franks (31, Crusaders / Canterbury, 106)
Nepo Laulala (27, Chiefs / Counties Manukau, 17)
Joe Moody (30, Crusaders /Canterbury, 37)
Atu Moli (24, Chiefs / Tasman, uncapped)
Angus Ta’avao (29, Chiefs / Taranaki, 3)
Karl Tu’inukuafe (26, Blues / North Harbour, 13)
Ofa Tuungafasi (27, Blues / Auckland, 26)
Brodie Retallick (28, Chiefs / Hawke’s Bay, 75)
Patrick Tuipulotu (26, Blues / Auckland, 21)
Samuel Whitelock (30, Crusaders / Canterbury, 108)
Jackson Hemopo (25, Highlanders / Manawatu,3)
Sam Cane (27, Chiefs / Bay of Plenty, 60)
Vaea Fifita (27, Hurricanes / Wellington, 9)
Shannon Frizell (25, Highlanders / Tasman, 4)
Luke Jacobson (22, Chiefs / Waikato, new cap)
Dalton Papalii (21, Blues / Auckland, 2)
Kieran Read (33, Crusaders / Counties Manukau, 118) — Captain
Ardie Savea (25, Hurricanes / Wellington, 35)
Matt Todd (31, Crusaders / Canterbury, 17)
TJ Perenara (27, Hurricanes / Wellington, 55)
Aaron Smith (30, Highlanders / Manawatu, 82)
Brad Weber (28, Chiefs / Hawke’s Bay, 1)
Beauden Barrett (28, Hurricanes / Taranaki, 73)
Josh Ioane (23, Highlanders / Otago, new cap)
Richie Mo’unga (25, Crusaders / Canterbury, 9)
Jack Goodhue (24, Crusaders / Northland, 7)
Ngani Laumape (26, Hurricanes / Manawatu, 10)
Anton Lienert-Brown (24, Chiefs / Waikato, 33)
Sonny Bill Williams (33, Blues / Counties Manukau, 51)
Braydon Ennor (21, Crusaders / Canterbury, new cap)
Jordie Barrett (22, Hurricanes / Taranaki, 9)
George Bridge (24, Crusaders / Canterbury, 1)
Rieko Ioane (22, Blues / Auckland, 24)
Sevu Reece (22, Crusaders / Waikato, new cap)
Ben Smith (33, Highlanders /Otago, 76)