All Blacks: Sir Graham Henry's advice for Steve Hansen after decision to quit

Former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry has one piece of valuable advice for Steve Hansen, when he steps down as New Zealand head coach after next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

On Friday, Hansen announced that 2019 would be his last with the All Blacks, as he shifted his focus to family, while he considers his next coaching move.

After serving as an assistant to Sir Graham, Hansen took over the head-coaching role in 2012 and has been in charge for 96 games so far, losing only eight, along with three draws.

Hansen has led the team through one of the most successful periods in All Blacks history, including a Rugby World Cup triumph, seven-straight Rugby Championship wins and an undefeated reign as Bledisloe Cup holders.

Sir Graham said Hansen might struggle to shake off old habits, just like he did, which earned him a slap on the wrist from wife Raewyn.

"I think it was the first All Blacks test after I left, in Christchurch, and I was sitting in the grandstand writing notes. Raewyn was sitting next to me and said, 'What are you writing those notes for?', and I said, 'Well, Steve could call me at half-time'.

"Old habits die hard. You're very analytical when you watch the game and I'm sure he'll be the same.

"I've learnt to relax now, so I don't write notes anymore and I enjoy the occasion.

"I'm sure there will be a small transition period for him. From my experience, he'll miss the job and the people, but he'll be at peace with his decision, if he can finish strong next year."

If Hansen does indeed finish strong by leading the All Blacks to a third consecutive World Cup, Sir Graham thinks his successor will undoubtedly go down as the greatest coach in rugby history.  

He wouldn't reveal who he thinks should be the next coach, but said there were "half-a-dozen" men who could step up to the role.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson. Photo credit: Photosport

"I think there are many people who can do the job. New Zealand Rugby is in a great position, because there are half a dozen coaches who can do a good job.

"We are lucky to have some great coaches coming through, so we're in a good situation.

"Steve is here for another year, so they have plenty of time and then after another six months after the World Cup before they play again, so it's at least 18 months away before the new coach takes control.

"The All Blacks have done well over the years and a big reason for that is succession planning. I'm not saying the new coach needs to come within - that is probable - but having a number of the management team continue when Steve finishes is important.

"They know what is going on. They have a great knowledge of the team and their development, because you're always trying to get better."

All Blacks selector Grant Fox believes the next All Blacks coach will inherit a team in fine fettle.

"Hansen has left the team in great shape for somebody to come in," he told Newshub. "The next coach will have their own way of doing things, but there is a great frame there for success to continue.

"It's demanding. It is probably the second-most talked about job, other than the prime minister.

"You go in there knowing and understanding that comes with the territory. The time commitment is enormous.

"It is the top job here from a rugby point of view and it comes with lots of pressures, but comes with lots of rewards."


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