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‘All Blacks secrets’: What Steve Hansen is doing with Eddie Jones’ Wallabies

By Finn Morton
Coaches Eddie Jones (L) of England and Steve Hansen of New Zealand talk during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between England and New Zealand at International Stadium Yokohama on October 26, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

When the bombshell news hit that legendary All Blacks coach Sir Steve Hansen had joined Eddie Jones at the Wallabies ahead of the World Cup, New Zealanders were heartbroken.

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Hansen officially became a ‘Sir’ in August 2020 after a decorated coaching career with the All Blacks. The former coach won two World Cup crowns, and has one of the best winning percentages in rugby history.

So, for a coach that has done so much for the All Blacks to go inside the Wallabies’ inner sanctum, this was seen by Kiwi rugby fans as the ultimate act of betrayal.

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Hansen had crossed enemy lines.

New Zealanders on social media couldn’t quite make sense of the news – and neither could the All Blacks.

Veteran Dane Coles was “hurt” and “gobsmacked” when a reporter broke the news of Hansen’s carer update to him earlier this week.

Coles couldn’t understand why “an icon in the All Blacks setup” had defected to one of the All Blacks’ fiercest rivals. It just didn’t make sense, and Coles was visibly shocked and gutted.

This news got political too, with New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins joking about revoking Hanen’s citizenship. But Kiwis can breathe a sigh of relief.

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Speaking with Martin Devlin on The Platform, Peter FitzSimons weighed in on the fiery debate from Paris. The former Wallaby attended an Australian training session with Hansen this week.

“There I was, Marty, standing beside Steve Hansen at the Wallaby training. He thought I was just being friendly but I was being a double agent,” FitzSimons joked on The Platform.

“I was pretending to be on the Australian side but I was actually there for you Marty, I was watching that ba*****. I was making sure that he didn’t whisper in Eddie’s ear anything about All Blacks secrets.”

Hansen explained on Newstalk ZB that he was only with the Wallabies “for about three to four days at the request of Eddie.”

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The two legendary coaches, who battled it out in the Test arena many times – including the 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final in Yokohama – are great mates. Coach Jones described Hansen coming into camp as “like a mate coming in (and) having a beer.”

“It’s bu******. I’ll speak honestly for a moment, it’s absolutely bu******,” FitzSimons added.

“Steve Hansen is a great rugby man… World Rugby needs Australian rugby to be strong and Steve Hansen is not passing over any message of All Blacks secrets.

“What he’s doing, he’s wandering around and having a bit of a chat – that’s it. There’s no meetings at midnight.

“He was talking to me about the virtues of culture, of a culture where you know each other, you like each other, old school rugby values, and the All Blacks have been terrific on that kind of stuff.

“We were both talking about the lovely line from my favourite rugby man ever, Sir Brian Lochore, BJ Lochore, the great line… ‘Better men make better All Blacks.’ It’s a great line.”

The Wallabies have lost all four Test matches under rugby guru Eddie Jones this year, and things took another disastrous turn as they prepared to leave Australia for Europe.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
3
Draws
0
Wins
2
Average Points scored
30
26
First try wins
40%
Home team wins
80%

Attack coach Brad Davis left the Wallabies three weeks before the Rugby World Cup due to “personal reasons.” Suddenly, coach Jones was looking for a replacement – and had to find one quickly.

Australia has brought in former rugby league coach Jason Ryles, who has previously worked with Jones. It’s a major boost for the Wallabies, but the prospect of an 0-5 still looms large.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
3
Draws
0
Wins
2
Average Points scored
30
26
First try wins
40%
Home team wins
80%

Looking to take the next step in their development as a coaching group, Jones decided to invite Hansen into Wallabies’ camp for two reasons.

“There’s two main areas mate: training quality, which is our way of improving, and the leadership of the team,” Jones told reporters earlier this week.

“Steve is having a look at both of those areas. Every time he speaks there is some wisdom in what he says. When he says something, we’re listening to him.

“How we can improve what we are doing, we’re looking to see if we can use his advice to do that.”

There was no room for veterans Michael Hooper and Quade Cooper in the Wallabies’ Rugby World Cup squad, with coach Jones and the selectors picking a youthful 33-man squad.

Four-Test flyhalf Carter Gordon was picked as the sole flyhalf in the squad, and inexperienced utility Ben Donaldson is set to play a backup role.

Out of the 33-man group, 25 players are set to play at a Rugby World Cup for the first time. It’s a staggering stat for a tier-one nation, but one that bodes well for the future of Australian rugby.

“They like good people coming in the camp, they want to get better and they can see the value of Steve,” Jones added.

“Just look at his Test record, I think he coached 200 Tests, for the All Blacks he won 80 plus per cent, I think 87 per cent.

“They like good people coming into the camp and he’s a good person. The attitudes have been really positive mate.”

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finn 5 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

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