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All Black coach Hansen slams rival coach Deans

All Black coaches Steve Hansen, Wayne Smith and Graham Henry

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Article Published: Monday 17 December 2012|

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has slammed Wallabies coach Robbie Deans by questioning whether he actually wanted the All Blacks coaching job in 2007 and saying that Deans wanted to be seen as "the martyr" when he didn't get the job.

In 2007 Deans' reputation was at it's highest after a hugely succesful periond in Super Rugby with the Crusaders and had been tipped to replace Graham Henry as New Zealand coach after the All Blacks had exited the Rugby World Cup at the quarter final stage.

All Black coach Hansen has an uneasy relationship with his Wallaby counterpart but his latest comments in a candid two-hour documentary on the story behind the 2011 World Cup called The Weight of a Nation will not ease tensions between the two coaches.

"If you want my honest opinion, I don't think Robbie wanted it (the All Blacks job) anyway," Hansen said in the documentary that aired on Sunday night.

"I think Robbie had already signed for Australia."

"I think he just went through the motions and wanted to be the martyr if he didn't get it, so he wins on both sides of the table."

Hansen suggested that Deans was not committed to getting the coaching job and that he was not prepared for the interview process.

"That's how I felt about it because you don't go to a (New Zealand Rugby Union) selection meeting and when asked, 'Who is going to be your running mates?' - knowing that the opposition (Sir Graham Henry) has got two pretty good candidates (Hansen and Wayne Smith) behind him - with a wishy washy answer. He did.

"And that's why he lost the job, from my understanding. So, did he really want the job?"

In the end Henry, Hansen and Smith were re-appointed and went on to win the Rugby World Cup at home in Auckland in 2011 but the issue of who would have been Deans' coaching assistants has long been a subject of conjecture and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw adressed the issue earlier this year in his book "The Open Side".

At the time in 2007 McCaw was being coached at the Crusaders by Deans and at national level by Henry, Hansen and Smith and but the All Black captain felt that none of the candidates were confident that they would be re-appointed.

Henry and Smith confirmed in The Weight of a Nation that they thought their time as All Black coaches had come to an end.

"In our gut, we probably thought that Robbie would get the job," said current Chiefs assistant coach Smith.

"And I don't think any of us would have begrudged that, because of his record and how well he had done.

"I still remember - Steve and I didn't have to go to the interview and 'Ted' (Henry) did - the phone went that evening and it was Ted saying, 'we're buggered mate'. And I said, 'oh well, Ted, at least we had a crack at it and he said, 'Oh yeh but the interview didn't go well and I think we're buggered'."

Henry said he that was equally as surprised at getting a second chance. "I didn't think I'd get the job," he said.

"I thought they'd appoint Robbie. I went down to the interview in Wellington, had the interview, didn't do the interview well . . . got too emotional."

Henry added that even though he had been appointed he felt pressure that he could be replaced by Deans and his anxiety increased after the Wallabies beat the All Blacks 34-19 in Sydney in 2008.

"We got beaten by Robbie," Henry said.

"But that's when people get tight and get together and get totally focused and do the business. "

"And we had to do the business at Eden Park the week after Sydney, otherwise I think we would have gone."

The All Blacks won the match at Eden Park 39-10 and went on to win their next 10 matches in a row against Deans' Wallabies.

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