Rugby: Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen becomes 'Sir Steve'

Former All Blacks coach Sir Steve Hansen admits he was reluctant to receive his knighthood, after being honoured the New Year 2020 Honours list.

The 60-year-old is now a Knight Companion of the NZ Order of Merit for his services to rugby, one of three new knights and three dames in this year's honours list, which includes Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua.

It is his second honour, having previously received the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2012. 

Sir Steve was born in Mosgiel, near Dunedin to dairy farmer parents. The family moved to Christchurch when he was 15, where he attended Christchurch Boys' High School, where he played first XV rugby in the midfield. 

He went onto play 21 provincial games for Canterbury, along with a brief stint with a French club, before returning to New Zealand.

His focus then turned to coaching, beginning with Canterbury between 1996-2001, leading them to two provincial titles. Between 1999-2001, he worked as an assistant with the Crusaders. 

Sir Steve was then named as Sir Graham Henry's successor as coach of Wales in 2002. After mixed results in the northern hemisphere, he returned to New Zealand in 2004 to work under Sir Graham as an assistant coach with the All Blacks. 

After the downs of the 2007 World Cup, Sir Steve assisted in coaching the All Blacks to the 2011 World Cup, before taking the top job, which he held until 2019. 

Sir Steve Hansen and Richie McCaw with the Rugby World Cup.
Sir Steve Hansen and Richie McCaw with the Rugby World Cup. Photo credit: Photosport

During his time as All Blacks coach, he led them to 2015 World Cup glory, winning 93 of his 107 tests in charge. 

Sir Steve joins fellow Kiwi World Cup-winning coaches Sir Graham and Sir Brian Lachore to be knighted. 

"It looks like if you win a World Cup, you get a knighthood," Sir Steve told Newshub. 

"Sir 'BJ' [Sir Brian] obviously a great man and he got knighted and 'Ted' [Sir Graham] has been knighted, so to win a World Cup you have to do a lot of time in the team, so it's a reflection of where rugby's held."

When Sir Steve was told, he did spend some time reflecting on whether he would accept the prestigious honour. 

Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is a notable person who has turned down a knighthood.

Sir Steve said the reasons to accept it outweighed the ones why he shouldn't. 

"I wanted to take some time to reflect. The purpose of why I would take it, why would I not take it. The honour is very humbling, but it's a lot bigger than that, it's about 19 years serving the game - 16 with the All Blacks, and three with Wales. 

"I felt incredibly honoured. I sat down with Tash, my wife, and we talked about what the honour was about and why it was important to say yes to it rather than turn it down. 

"I've been fortunate enough to work with some wonderful people, both management and players, I've had magnificent support from my family and my wife. 

Sir Graham Henry, with Sir Steve Hansen, Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.
Sir Graham Henry, with Sir Steve Hansen, Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. Photo credit: Photosport

"The honour is not about me, but all those people and about the game. By accepting it, you're acknowledging those things."  

Even though he's accepted the award, he just wants to be known as 'Steve'.

"I can't see myself using the 'sir' too often. I've been Steve since birth, so I'll be Steve till the day I die.

"I just want to be treated the same as I was before the knighthood. Some people treat you good, others don't, so the same will continue."

While a knighthood is an individual accolade, Sir Steve knows he couldn't have done it without a great support crew helping him. 

"It is a team thing as well as an individual thing - it's a bit of both. I wouldn't be here if we didn't have the great athletes and staff that work for us, I wouldn't be here if I didn't have the love and support of Tash and the family. 

"It is not something you seek or go into thinking you want a knighthood. Other people make those decisions and I just get on with my job. I'm very fortunate to wake up every day and do a job I love, I was passionate about and have incredible people supporting me. 

"When the honour is bestowed on you, it's very humbling and you take a lot of pride in it." 

Sir Steve already has a new job as an adviser with Toyota Verblitz in Japan's Top League. He joined retired All Blacks captain Kieran Read at the side. And while this role is for a couple of years, he hasn't ruled out being involved in New Zealand rugby again. 

"I'm still involved in rugby in my consulting role with Toyota Verblitz, and that's 18 weeks for the first year and 12 the following year. That will give me time to do things back here. 

"But rugby's a game I love and it will be nice to watch it without the pressures that comes with being a coach. 

Sir Steve Hansen with his wife Tash Marshall.
Sir Steve Hansen with his wife Tash Marshall. Photo credit: Photosport

"I haven't any time to think about that. The Japanese job was put in front of me, and it was too good to turn down. 

"Over the next wee while, we'll work through whatever comes up and I'll yay or nay, and it'll be a good time to spend with the family at this stage." 

Sir Steve added that he spent lots of time reflecting on the disappointing 2019 World Cup campaign, which saw New Zealand claim bronze.  

"It's still raw. I haven't sat down and reflected about the whole time, but when you take a moment, there have been plenty of great moments.

"One or two disappointing ones, but there are plenty of great ones and plenty to be proud of. When it comes to reflecting, I'm sure I'll be happy with what we achieved, but me being me, I'll probably always want more." 

Sir Steve is also confident that new coach Ian Foster can lead the All Blacks to more glory. 

"I have all the faith in the world Fozzie will do a great job. He has a new crew with him, so it's his time, his moment. If he bes himself, trusts his instinct, he'll be fine. 

"Fozzie's been there for eight years, very similar to myself when I took over, so he doesn't need my advice. 

"It's an exciting year for rugby and everyone involved, and that we don't have any catastrophes like we've had."

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