Hansen: Boys showed character

Sun, 20 Nov 2016 06:53

REACTION: World Champions New Zealand showed real character in rebounding from a shock defeat a fortnight ago to beat the same side Ireland 21-9 in Dublin on Saturday said coach Steve Hansen.

The 57-year-old - who guided the All Blacks to a successful defence of their World Cup title last year - added they had been put under huge pressure, especially in the second-half, and had answered the call.

Hansen - who had not been very happy when in the immediate post-match TV interview, he had thought his side were accused of being a dirty side - said it was especially creditable given after the World Cup last year they lost players with over 800 caps between them.

"I'm pretty happy," said Hansen.

"Two weeks ago this team lost to the same opposition and this created adversity.

"Today was all about how they would stand up to that pressure...they answered that.

"It wasn't always pretty and they have a lot to learn, but give the players and experience we lost with over 800 caps they're going pretty well so far."

Hansen, who picked up the World Coach of the Year award last Sunday for the fourth time in five years, said the way the players had stood up to the Irish, who failed to score a try, could not be taken out of a training manual.

"We had character especially as for 20 minutes of the match we played with 14 men [they had two players sin-binned Aaron Smith in the first-half and two try-scorer Malakai Fekitoa in the second]," said Hansen.

"You can't coach character.

"Did we play the smartest rugby? I don't think so, but I thought it was a fair dinkum Test match."

Hansen, who took over the role five years ago after Graham Henry stood down after winning the 2011 World Cup, said that a difference between the defeat in Chicago and Saturday's game was a different mindset shown by the team.

"We turned up here with the right attitude," said Hansen.

"I think in Chicago we turned up with our attitude off by five percent and we paid for that.

"In rugby, it sounds simple but to win big Tests you have to be able to kick it, pass it and use the space.

"I thought our kicking was much better today than it was in Chicago.

"And we ran at their defence, who didn't seem to be keen on tackling, but preferring to wrest the ball off us.

"Beauden Barrett saw that and he scored his try exactly through that."

Skipper Kieran Read said it had been a heck of a physical tussle.

"How hard a Test was it? Pretty much up there with the hardest," said the 31-year-old No.8.

"The boys dug in deep and showed real character.

"We had to work bloody hard." 

Hansen preferred to keep his counsel over the performance of South African referee Jaco Peyper, although he felt he hadn't been as hard on the Irish as on his side.

Agence France-Presse