Hansen urges 'hurting' All Blacks to show character

Steve Hansen (Getty Images)
Steve Hansen (Getty Images)

Tokyo - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen urged his dejected players to show character and bounce back from their Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat against England when they take on Wales in the third-place playoff.

New Zealand, who won the last two World Cups, are heading into a game that no one wants to play on Friday and Hansen said it presented his team with an unusual challenge.

"It's easy to have character when you win all the time because it's not tested. Our character has been tested this week," Hansen said on Thursday.

"The most important thing we can do this week is to play to the highest standards... In doing that, we show not only ourselves and our team-mates but also our country that we've got some character," added the coach, who is stepping down after the game.

Hansen has compared the 19-7 loss to England to losing a family member and he said that letting out the emotion has been a therapeutic process.

Fly-half Richie Mo'unga said there have been times this week where he has taken himself off for a "lie-down and a cry" but that the close-knit team has pulled together.

"In my short career, it is the toughest loss I've suffered in rugby," said Mo'unga, adding that the lesson he had learned was not to take games for granted.

Scrumhalf Aaron Smith said there had been a brutally honest "post-mortem" after the England game that had healed some of the mental wounds.

"You've got grown men crying their hearts out and that's showing real, massive vulnerability," he said.

"To be that honest in a really tough situation is really hard to take and I probably left the room feeling a lot better. Not happy, but a lot better. It's still there, still hurts," added Smith.

As well as Hansen, captain Kieran Read will be playing his last match as an All Black against the Welsh and the players stressed the importance of sending them out on a high.

While Mo'unga at 25 has a lot of rugby ahead of him, Smith revealed that he was aiming at the next World Cup in France -- if his body allows him.

Read "turned 34 last week, so there's hope. I'm 30. I say there's hope, doesn't mean I'm going to make it", joked Smith.

"My contract's a two-year deal. You can talk to them to make it four. I'm keen," quipped the scrum-half.

As for Hansen, he said he was focusing purely on Friday's match and on how to get the best out of his players rather than reflecting on his incredible coaching record.

"I'm going somewhere else after this, which we all know. And I'll have plenty of time to reflect there with a cold beer in my hand. And a hot towel. And whatever else you want me to have."

Kick-off is at 11:00 SA time on Friday.


New Zealand

15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody

Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Jordie Barrett


15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 James Davies, 6 Justin Tipuric, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Nicky Smith

Substitutes: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Wyn Jones, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Aaron Shingler, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Hadleigh Parkes

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
loading... Live
New Zealand 7
South Africa 11
Voting Booth
With the Springboks losing their last two matches against Australia, how concerned are you?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Very concerned! Something is not right ...
59% - 3174 votes
I'm not worried. Every team has a bad game. The Boks will bounce back.
18% - 951 votes
It's too early to tell. Let's see how they go against the All Blacks.
24% - 1300 votes