Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen (Getty Images)
Bagshot - Steve Hansen said he feels humble to be head coach of the All Blacks -- but not so humble that he does not enjoy "sitting on top of the tree."
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Hansen takes his team into Saturday's World Cup final against Australia seeking the final stamp of authority on his remarkable four-year reign that has seen New Zealand lose only three and draw two of their 53 matches.
He was also involved as assistant to Graham Henry when they triumphed on home soil in 2011 and said it was difficult initially taking over the top job.
"It is a feeling of humbleness and being grateful," he told reporters on Thursday when asked what it meant to him to be All Blacks coach.
"It comes with a lot of responsibility and you don't want to let people down. It is quite daunting because you are expected to win all the time.
"Once you've got over that, and you do, it is a great place to be. There is not a better team for me to be part of. I will be forever grateful to my family for giving me the time to do it and to New Zealand Rugby for giving me the opportunity."
Despite his bruising experience as head coach of Wales from 2002-04, Hansen said he felt better suited to the top job rather than an assistant, as he was with the All Blacks for seven years.
"By nature I'm probably better suited to being the person sitting at the top of the tree rather than halfway up. You get to drive the bus the way you want it driven," he said in a marvellous metaphorical mix.
"Halfway up the tree you have to disagree sometimes. But we run a pretty open forum and that's massively important.
"We have a sweet-spot group with shared leadership, and every decision is geared to how we play on Saturday."
Hansen's father, Des, who died in 2012, was also a coach. When asked on Thursday whether Hansen senior had passed on any particular nugget of coaching wisdom, he said: "Yes, you get all your options off your opposition," before telling the enquiring reporter to go off to a dark room to think about it.