Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen embraces weight of history

A changing room announcement for the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup squad, harking back to rugby days of old.

But make no mistake, there's no room for nostalgia here, and the only nod to history is about making it.

"Doing something that has never been done before trying to win three world cups in a row," Hansen told Newshub. "We know it's going to be hard, we know it's going to be tough and we know we're going to have to earn the right to do it."

There's a reason it's never been done before. 

To win two or three world cups in a row takes a level of player and coaching consistency few rugby nations could aspire to.

And ruthless, brutal honesty, like telling 108-test veteran Owen Franks he didn't make the squad.

"It's really tough for him… he's been such a wonderful servant for NZ rugby, and he deserves to go down as one of the great props."

Under Hansen the All Blacks have enjoyed remarkable success, and even a record loss to the Wallabies last month has done little to dampen a nation's hopes heading into the World Cup. 

A less experienced coach might find that pressure overwhelming. Hansen says bring it on.

"We've been fortunate enough to live in an environment with the All Blacks where that expectation is with us all the time. Not only are we expected to win test matches everytime we play, but by big margins and we believe that pressure will be something that gives us an advantage."

Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen embraces weight of history

Japan will be Hansen's fifth world cup - one as coach of Wales, two as All Blacks assistant coach, and two at the helm.

He credits his late father Des - a renowned Canterbury coach - as his greatest influence, and seems genuinely thrilled to have passed that on to more than 150 All Blacks over 15 years with the team. 

What is the most proud of with the interactions with those 150 men?

"Probably the fact that I've been as honest as I can be with them and tried to develop them to become better people and in doing so be a better person myself."

It can be hard to tell sometimes, but yes, Steve Hansen is excited. As he says, who wouldn't be.


Join us for live updates of the 2019 Rugby World Cup from September 20