Farewell Hansen – Keeper of the Bledisloe
Keeping the Bledisloe Cup under lock and key for his entire tenure with the All Blacks will be one of Steve Hansen’s most gratifying achievements upon departure this year.
Hansen has revealed a “not on my watch” attitude to retaining the trans-Tasman prize became more focused as each defence ticked by.
The 36-0 victory in Auckland on Saturday made it 16 in a row and allowed the veteran coach to exhale.
Hansen steps down after the World Cup and regardless of whether the All Blacks defend their crown in Japan, the 60-year-old will regard his Bledisloe shut-out as an accomplishment to savour.
He joined New Zealand’s coaching structure as an assistant to Graham Henry in 2004, a year after the record reign began.
Eight years in that role were followed by eight in charge.
Multiple Bledisloe Cup Tests have marked every season and he says the occasions when the Wallabies had sent the series to a decider remain burned in his memory.
“It’s massive,” he said.
“As we’ve talked about for many years now, outside the World Cup it’s the most important thing that we have.
“We seem to have this thing in World Cup years that we come to that final game and have to win.
“It’s just a nice feeling to be able to say, ‘well, not on my watch’.”
Saturday’s Test was Hansen’s 100th in charge, a milestone he played down.
However, he has few peers over that period having lost just nine times.
Only three of 23 trans-Tasman Tests have been lost, including the 2015 World Cup final.
Australia can’t celebrate seeing the back of him just yet as the All Blacks and Wallabies could meet again in Japan, although it would need to be in the last-four stage of the tournament.