Final two-horse race - Hansen

2011-10-20 08:35

Auckland - France's patchy form going into the Rugby World Cup final will have no bearing on what remains a two-horse race, All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen insisted Thursday.

The French lost two pool matches, against New Zealand and Tonga, before progressing as pool runners-up into the quarter-finals when they beat a lamentable England before edging 14-man Wales in the semi-finals.

And Hansen said his thoughts were not at all on his future, with many pundits claiming he will take over from head coach Graham Henry after Sunday's match, but on victory the final.

"All I'm planning for is winning a game," said Hansen, who is assistant to Henry alongside Wayne Smith, the latter looking after the backs with Hansen responsible for the forwards.

"The narrow, short-term goals are the focus. There's no room for anything else at the moment," Hansen insisted,

"It's just a total focus on getting a team ready to play really, really well as we know we're going to have to because the French will play really well.

"Like us, they've earned the right to arrive at Eden Park and play at 10:00 (SA time) on Sunday. It's a two-horse race and both teams will be doing their utmost to win it."

Hansen added: "As the tournament's built so we've built our performance. There's a genuine desire to get the job done and a hungriness for that to happen.

"There's not too many times in your life you get a chance to do something special... you've got to make sure you do it right."

And Hansen played down reports that he was in the hotseat to take over from Henry, with whom both he and Smith have overseen 102 All Blacks Tests.

"It's not even something I'm thinking about at the moment," Hansen said.

"Four years ago we got knocked out of the quarter-final of the World Cup (by France) and the three coaches made a decision to try and re-get the job and we did that, were luckily enough to be reappointed and we're going to turn up on Sunday and try to win this thing.

"I don't care what happens after Sunday night. All I'm focusing on is getting a team ready to turn up to win."

Hansen said that France coach Marc Lievremont's inclusion of prop Nicolas Mas, hooker William Servat and No 8 Imanol Harinodoquy, who all missed the 37-17 pool defeat by the All Blacks, would give the French an added dimension up front.

"It gives them experience, and experience is something that allows you to cope with pressure better," he said of the veteran trio.

"They're quality players in their own right, it will give them a little more versatility in their line-out - (Julien) Bonnaire won't be the only jumper, the scrum will probably improve, and it's the set-pieces that allow you to have a platform."

* RWC final odds on BET.CO.ZA: New Zealand vs France


  • HagenDan - 2011-10-20 09:04

    A world cup final is a two horse race? Holy sh_t!

  • Theo - 2011-10-20 09:18

    HagenDan do we need to explain that one to you?

      HagenDan - 2011-10-20 10:59

      Sarcasm just doesn't work over the interwebs...

  • Theprodigy - 2011-10-20 09:25

    more like a race against a sick chicken & a cheating, desperate kiwi

      Theo - 2011-10-20 09:39

      Theprodigy those 3 errors are the undisputed facts of the Bok rwc failure. I see in your comments all over that you dont like dealing in facts and instead you prefer to conjur up theories that provide an alternative reality for you.Obviously reality is an issue too? Do you receive forensic treatment for your alternative reality world? No ? Well you should seriously consider it cause those 3 errors are not going to disappear no matter how many times you watch the match replay. Perhaps in your alternative reality the boks win in the 4th or 5th replay?

      Theprodigy - 2011-10-20 09:47

      Go FRANCE, make them eat humble pie, @Theo, go post on NZ herald, bye

      Theo - 2011-10-20 09:57

      Theprodigy yep. its just as I feared.I hit the nail on the head? you do live in an alternative reality and refuse to debate the real facts. Denial is a terrible thing . it forces you to live in that alternative reality for so long you cannot distinguish reality from illusion. you do need help. Can I suggest that you start your therapy by switching off your pc and stop watching those match replays. The boks still dont win at the 4th or 5th replay. Sleeping pills will help and time of 4 years?

  • Barry - 2011-10-20 09:37

    Go France !!

  • Jerhone - 2011-10-20 13:24

    be afraid of Les blues be very afraid Vivla France

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