Steve Hansen has detailed two of his big regrets from his time as head coach of the All Blacks.
Hansen, who was an assistant coach to Graham Henry from 2004-2011 before taking over as head coach from 2012 to 2019, told Wales Online that the drawn series against the British and Irish Lions still particularly hurts.
When asked if he was “happy to have been a part” of a thrilling three-test series, Hansen’s response was emphatic.
“No. I don’t think I coached as well as I could have that year,” he said.
Hansen also still lingers on the fact the All Blacks could have easily won the series, if not for a red card to Sonny Bill Williams, and a controversial late overturned penalty in the final test at Eden Park, denying the All Blacks a chance at a match-winning – and series-winning – penalty.
“I also know it could have gone drastically a different way.
“There was that red card in the second test and we led well deep into that game.
“Then to lose it on a penalty where a guy tackles a guy jumping to catch the ball from a poor pass, when everyone knows that wasn’t intentional of that rule, that’s frustrating.
“Then the last game was frustrating with the decision at the end (with Ken Owens) that was so obvious to everybody, but no-one wanted to admit to it.
“So those things they hang around and play on your mind.
“But the biggest thing that stops me from moving on is really how I coached, because I think I could have done it better.
“I made a couple of decisions that I look back on and think I shouldn’t have done that.”
Hansen says the same reflections come up when thinking about the All Blacks’ semifinal defeat against England at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which denied his team the chance to become the first team to win three World Cup titles in a row.
Hansen’s bold ploy to start Scott Barrett at blindside flanker ahead of Sam Cane didn’t pay dividends, while England were also well prepared to – literally – tackle everything the All Blacks threw at them as they claimed an emphatic deserved victory.
“It’s the same with the World Cup, the week of the semi-final against England,” Hansen recalls.
“There were a couple of things I could have driven differently that I didn’t do and you kind of wish you had.
“But hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?”
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