COMMENT

Hold the coaching epitaph. Now is not the time for reflection.

In the coming days and weeks as Christmas hams are glazed, Steve Hansen's phenomenal record and influence as All Blacks head coach will be widely extolled.

Understandably so, too.

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Today, though, is not about signing off; not about the end of anything.

Today is, rather, about drawing a timely line through speculation and ensuring the All Blacks can now push ahead to next year's World Cup without Hansen's future hanging over them.

The goldfish bowl that is New Zealand rugby may have turned septic green had the next 12 months been dominated by the 'will he won't he' charade.

Every public appearance would have been focused on one topic, asked a multitude of different ways, growing a life of its own, ultimately leading all involved to become utterly frustrated.

Sure attention will swiftly turn to who should replace arguably the greatest All Blacks coach in history.

Everyone will have their view.

To most, contenders are obvious. It will, however, be more about what management teams each candidate can assemble.

New Zealand Rugby's timeline to appoint a successor (December, 2019) dictates the process won't take place until after the World Cup.

We can all cool our jets, then. And more importantly, the All Blacks can happily go about their business of chasing a third straight World Cup crown with only the external noise and pressure they live with every day.

Until then, save the tributes for the job is not done.

For now, merely acknowledge Hansen has made the right, selfless decision.
For that alone he should be applauded.

It takes a certain person to give up something they genuinely love even when they don't want to, even when they are not ready to let go.

Steve Hansen announces his decision to step down as All Blacks head coach after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Photo / Photosport
Steve Hansen announces his decision to step down as All Blacks head coach after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Photo / Photosport

Winning any argument with Hansen is virtually impossible and he is often described as stubborn. But in this decision, he put others ahead of his own emotional attachment.

Hansen's record and tight-knit relationship with chief executive Steve Tew gave him the chance to decide his future; to go out on his own terms.

In the cut-throat world of professional coaching, that is as rare as a satisfied New Zealand rugby fan.

Hansen could have stayed, he decided to go. It is that simple.

By stepping aside he has stayed true to the values he has long attempted to impart; that of team first, individual second.

Hansen's comments around the need for the All Blacks to welcome fresh eyes after the World Cup reveal just how honest he was with himself and close to him.

Sixteen years is a long time for anyone to spend in any working environment, let alone one that takes you great distances away from home and family for more than half the year.

Hansen's passion for the All Blacks has grown, not waned, in that time but he knows the time is almost right for someone else to sit in his coveted seat.

Throughout his tenure with the All Blacks, dating back to 2004, Hansen has evolved dramatically as a person and coach but there is also only so many ways to alter one's thinking and view of the game.

Hansen is his own man. He, therefore, knows he cannot offer the different long-term vision the All Blacks need.

With much work remaining, the last thing Hansen wanted is to be a distraction.
With that now put to bed, he and his team can soon go about seeking to create more history in Japan.

Make no mistake, Hansen will be as driven as ever to make the necessary tweaks next year. Maybe even a little more relaxed knowing this decision is out of the way.

The time to reflect will eventually come. Hansen's book is far from closed.