Sydney - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has lifted the lid further on his
uneasy relationship with Wallabies rival Robbie Deans, questioning
whether Deans actually wanted the All Blacks job after the 2007 Rugby World
Cup and claiming he wanted to be portrayed as ''the martyr'' when he
didn't get it.
''If you want my honest opinion, I don't think Robbie wanted it [the All Blacks job] anyway,'' Hansen told The Weight of a Nation,
a candid two-hour documentary on the story behind the 2011 World Cup
that screened in New Zealand 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.
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 [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?''
The reappointment of Henry, Hansen and Smith - and the issue
of Deans's choice of assistants - has long been a subject of
conjecture, with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw also addressing the
issue in his book, The Open Side, this year. McCaw, who was
coached by Deans at the Crusaders and by Henry, Hansen and Smith at
national level, formed the opinion that none of the candidates thought
they were going to get the job, a position reinforced by Henry and
Smith in The Weight of a Nation.
''In our gut, we probably thought that Robbie would get the
job,'' Chiefs assistant coach Smith said. ''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 yeah, but the interview
didn't go well and I think we're buggered.' ''
Henry said he 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 also revealed that, even after the reappointment, he
thought his hold on the job was fragile after Deans coached the
Wallabies to a comprehensive 34-19 victory against the All Blacks in
Sydney in 2008 - the first of their many duels at Test level.
''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 that match 39-10, shoring up Henry's
position and beginning a period of frustration for Deans and the