Coach Steve Hansen, in his final post-match press conference, had a last request for the media before he departs, his next All Black viewing experiences probably coming via a television and accompanied by a beer or two.

It consisted of: Don't bother calling to get his opinion on the team or the new coach or tactics or anything associated with any of the above.

"One thing I'll promise, and I need you guys to hear this so you don't come bothering me; I won't be talking about what they should be doing or how they should be doing it," Hansen said after watching his side beat Wales 40-17 in the Rugby World Cup bronze playoff match at Tokyo Stadium. "If you ring me and ask me that it won't be a very good conversation."

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Point taken. And yet, after eight years as head coach and 16 years with the All Blacks in total, he couldn't resist having a little pop at the perceived selfishness of the powerful Six Nations bloc, and there was a little dig too at his Wales and British & Irish Lions rival Warren Gatland, who is now set to return to New Zealand to coach the Chiefs before he takes a one-year sabbatical in 2021 to coach the Lions on their tour of South Africa.

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"The Northern Hemisphere has always had the say on what happens," Hansen began, like a man wanting to get one or two things off his chest. "The Six Nations have been doing that for years. I think that's one of the issues with our game; we need to become a global game and make decisions that are right for the game rather than what's right for a region. So there's a big challenge for us and our game to put our own personal desires to the side and actually do what's right for the game and we struggle with that a wee bit at the moment."

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ANZ Sports Scene: Steve Hansen's final press conference as All Blacks head coach. Video / Mark Mitchell

The Gatland answer came to a question from a British journalist, who asked: "How fierce a competitor has he been for you and how glad are you that he's coming back to New Zealand?"

"I think we've played 10 times, and it might be eight wins, one loss and one draw [the latter two to the Lions]. It's been competitive, yeah," Hansen said with a tone approaching irony. "He's coaching a team in Wales that I once coached. You take a lot of notice because of that and he's done a wonderful job of coaching them.

"Having him back in New Zealand for a year - I'm not sure how that's going to work, to be honest, because he's going to go and do the Lions after that so there's not going to be a lot of continuity for the Chiefs and him. But I'm sure he'll work his way through that."

So far, so entertaining, and, bearing in mind that Hansen began by paying credit to the way Wales played, and was at pains to not appear to gloat at their expense, it was all delivered in an understated tone that he has become famous for.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen on the pitch with his his wife Tash Marshall after their victory over Wales in the Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match. Photo / Mark Mitchell
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen on the pitch with his his wife Tash Marshall after their victory over Wales in the Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match. Photo / Mark Mitchell

There was more to come. Asked how he would reflect on his time with the All Blacks, Hansen replied: "I'll find a nice, quiet place at home and sit down and have a few drinks with [wife] Tash and we'll have a few laughs and 'salute' a few times and probably get drunk.

"Stop there, Steve," skipper Kieran Read suddenly interjected.

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Hansen continued to laughter: "Kieran is still only 30-odd and I'm 60 so what he's thinking about doesn't happen too often. Well, not as much as I'd like anyway."

Hansen, serious now, added of his greatest supporter: "I couldn't have done it without her. She's a way better leader than I am. She's wiser, she's better looking, and smarter, so she ticks all the boxes. I just hope this team continues to grow and get better."

He's about to go, but won't be forgotten in a hurry; Steve Hansen, a two-time World Cup winner and a man who must be considered the All Blacks best ever coach. Don't call him, he'll call you.


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