Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns assistant Whitney Hansen leans on former All Blacks coach, father Sir Steve for advice

The Black Ferns may have the best coaching staff of any rugby team in the world, but assistant Whitney Hansen still leans on her very accomplished dad for advice.

As the daughter of former All Blacks coach Sir Steve Hansen, Whitney doesn't need to look far for guidance, as New Zealand prepare for their Rugby World Cup opener at Eden Park on Saturday.

With the likes of 'Rugby Professor' Wayne Smith at the helm, World Cupwinner Sir Graham Henry in support, and All Blacks legends Dan Carter and Richie McCaw helping out, the Ferns have assembled a dream team of rugby minds.

Despite that experience, Whitney reveals she won't hesitate to call on her dad's expertise.

"He's pretty awesome at being on the other end of the phone, and whether that's just about tips like 'always be nice to the manager' or we're actually talking rugby, he's usually pretty helpful," she said.

"I think most of the time we're talking, it's getting back to 'what are the critical few, what are we trying to achieve and how are we going about doing that?'

"I think we are really lucky to be supported by ex-All Blacks and Black Ferns. They've really wrapped around us this year and the girls have loved those connections.

"Just like we're hoping to inspire the next generation, we're being inspired by those that have gone before, that's pretty cool.

"It goes back to the question you asked before on what's one of the learnings I took off Dad and it's about the pressure you have internally is generally greater than the pressure you will feel in anything else.

"I certainly feel like that's how we operate in this time. We've got a job to do and the pressure we have internally, what we can carry, the desire to do that will be greater than anything else that gets put on us externally."

Whitney Hansen in action with the Black Ferns
Whitney Hansen in action with the Black Ferns. Photo credit: Photosport

Whitney Hansen comes from a long line of esteemed coaches, with grandfather and respected rugby mentor Des Hansen also a profound effect on her personally.

"He was a pretty special man and I'm pretty grateful to have had him in my life," she said.

"Probably the biggest thing I learned from him wasn't necessarily about coaching, it was probably just about being a good human… that no matter who you are, where you come from, you're worth something.

"On the rugby side of things, thinking outside the box… you can't be world-leading if you're trying to be someone else, I think I got that from him."

Watch the Rugby World Cup live on Spark Sport or free-to-air on Three, or join us on Saturday for live updates of the Black Ferns v Australia World Cup opener