There weren’t too many surprises in the All Blacks’ Wednesday press-conference.
The New Zealand side named to play in the bronze final was fairly predictable with the likes of Ben Smith, Ryan Crotty and Rieko Ioane all returning to the starting lineup.
Steve Hansen raised a few eyebrows, however, when he refuted Eddie Jones’ claims about the All Blacks’ coach’s future.
On Saturday evening, post England’s win, Jones was asked about his New Zealand counterpart Hansen.
“He’s a great rugby man, he’ll go down as one of the great All Blacks coaches,” Jones said, before delving into Hansen’s future plans.
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“I know he’s coming back here and coaching at Toyota, so their cars will run a bit faster.”
Unconfirmed but highly substantiated rumours have indicated that Hansen would be taking up the director of rugby role at Toyota Verblitz.
Jones’ comments suggested that Hansen would in fact be taking on a more hands-on role, but Hansen had quelled that thought.
“Thanks, Eddie,” Hansen said with his trademark dry tone.
“I’m not actually coming to Japan to coach that team. I’ve got another job with that team, which I’ll talk about another day unless Eddie mentions it in his press conference again.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 30, 2019
“I am excited about Saturday and then I’ll talk to you about what happens after that. I’m a reasonably laid-back person so what happens next will be reasonably exciting too.”
This is the most information that Hansen has revealed on his future to date and all but confirms his speculated role.
Hansen won’t be the only man the All Blacks will have to do without in 2020.
Ben Smith, who will play on the right wing on Friday, is bucking the current trend and heading to Pau in France whilst Sonny Bill Williams is weighing up a range of offers, if the rumours are to be believed.
One Kiwi who isn’t heading anywhere is hooker Dane Coles.
“I hope not,” Coles said when asked whether 2019 will be the end of his career in black.
“I still pinch myself because there were a couple of times that I didn’t think [playing in a World Cup] was likely. I’d love to be in the All Blacks next year. I love playing for this team.
“I still have a desire to pull on that black jersey and represent my country so there will be a strong desire to work hard next year and get back to this team because I love it and care about it.”
For those fans still in Japan, don’t be surprised if you see a few more All Blacks out on the town during the week of the bronze final:
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