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Steve Hansen makes decision on his future

All Blacks head coach has made a decision.

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Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

It’s been an action packed week for New Zealand rugby with Ben Smith announcing he’s off to France and Nehe Milner-Skudder also en-route to Europe. With a press conference called for 9am (NZ Time) was All Blacks coach Steve Hansen about to bring some good news or confirm that he too would be on his way.  

In typical laid back Steve’s fashion, he simply said, 

“I’m going”

The 59 year old whose contract is due to expire at the end of the 2019 World Cup will have been part of the All Blacks coaching ticket for 16 years. Prior to taking the head coach role in 2012 he worked as the assistant coach to Graham Henry.

“I just think that after 16 years it is the right time to move on after the World Cup. It is the right thing for the team. We can have a fresh pair of eyes come into the team,” said Hansen.

Hansen added, “It’s been a huge privilege to be part of the All Blacks for such a long time and I’m really looking forward to, and excited by the challenges, of the next 12 months. We’ll be attempting to do something that has never been done before – to win three consecutive Rugby World Cups. I’m highly motivated by that, as is the whole group, and we’re really looking forward to it.”

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Hansen felt it was important to make the announcement about his future now so that New Zealand Rugby had plenty of time to identify his successor.

“This is a critical process which shouldn’t be rushed and shouldn’t be made in the turbulent period that tends to follow a Rugby World Cup campaign.”

Hansen said he hadn’t made any decision on his future at present and his focus was on preparing for the 2019 season.

All Blacks Chairman Brent Impey has lead the tributes to Hansen.

“On behalf of the New Zealand Rugby Board, I’d like to thank Steve for his enormous contribution to our national game. He’s hugely respected, clear in his views, and will leave the job as one of the greatest ever All Blacks coaches.

“His record is unsurpassed. The All Blacks currently hold all the major trophies we play for, he played a critical role in the back-to-back-Rugby World Cup victories in 2011 and 2015, and we wish him and the team all the very best for next year’s campaign.

“Whatever happens next in Steve’s career, his place as a New Zealand rugby legend is guaranteed,” 

All Blacks Chairman Brent Impey

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew said Hansen had overseen “one of the richest periods in All Blacks history.”

“On his watch the All Blacks have had a winning rate of close to 90 percent – a remarkable run of sustained success”

“As well as his success on the field, he will also be remembered for his bold selections and the way he and his management team provided the opportunity and environment for the players to achieve their full potential on the international stage.

“He cares deeply about the game and the wider issues facing it and his views are hugely respected not only in New Zealand but internationally.

“On behalf of New Zealand Rugby, we congratulate Steve, his wife Tash and his family on his contribution to New Zealand Rugby – and the contribution he’ll continue to make in 2019 – and we all look forward to what next year will bring.”

Without doubt, there will be a few names bandied about as potential successors with Joe Schmidt, Ian Foster and Scott Robertson already being mentioned. One thing that is for sure is that whoever gets the gig will have a tough act to follow.

International

Best to Captain Barbarians at Twickenham

The Barbarians have announced their squad for their clash with Fiji on November 16th and Ireland legend Rory Best will captain the invitational side on his final professional appearance

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Barbarians have confirmed their 23-man squad for their match against Fiji on Saturday November 16th at Twickenham, with Rory Best set to captain the side.

The invitational side take on Fiji in the Killik Cup as England head coach takes charge of the team and Irish rugby legend Best will captain the team from hooker in what will be his final professional appearance, having finished his international career with Ireland during the Rugby World Cup

Best is joined by Springbok ace and fellow legend in rugby Tendai Mtawarira in the front-row as the pair are joined by Enrique Pieretto. 

As well as Mtawarira, fellow World Cup winner Makazole Mapimpi starts on the wing, while Boks’ centre Lukhanyo Am is on the bench along with former Springbok Morne Steyn, who joins up in a Barbarians squad with Mtawarira once again, having lined-out together back in 2009 during a 25-19 win over the All Blacks.

Elsewhere, the side contains big names such as Mathieu Bastareaud, who links up with Andre Esterhuizen in the midfield. 

It is the first of three fixtures for the Baa Baas as they follow their game with Fiji, with clashes against Brazil in Sao Paolo and Wales at the Principality Stadium to conclude their November tour for 2019. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

15. David Havili

14. Dillyn Leyds

13. Mathieu Bastareaud

12. Andre Esterhuizen

11. Makazole Mapimpi

10. Curwin Bosch

9. Joe Powell

1. Tendai Mtawariria

2. Rory Best ©

3. Enrique Pieretto

4. Luke Jones

5. Tyler Ardron

6. Pete Samu

7. Marco Van Staden 

8. Josh Strauss

Replacements:

Andrew Makalio, Campese Maafu, Hencus Van Wyk, Angus Cottrell, Matt Philip, Jano Vermaak, Lukhanyo Am, Morne Steyn

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6 Nations

Wales Dealt Six Nations Double-Blow

Wales’ Six Nations title defence has been dealt a massive blow already with two stars facing surgery to fix injuries picked up on international duty

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(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Wales will be without both Jonathan Davies and Rhys Patchell for some part of the 2020 Six Nations campaign due to injury it has been confirmed.

Davies, a key member of the Welsh squad for the past number of seasons sustained a knee injury during Wales’ recent Rugby World Cup campaign, and Scarlets have announced that he will undergo surgery on the injury.

The recovery time for the for the centre is set to be six months, meaning he will miss the entire Six Nations tournament in what could be a critical blow as they look to defend their title. While it also means that he could potentially miss the entire club season for Scarlets.

As for Patchell, things aren’t as severe as Davies, but the fly-half is still set to miss the start of the Six Nations with a shoulder injury, which he too will have surgery on.

He is expected to miss between 12-16 weeks due to the injury in what is a cruel blow for a player that has suffered with injury previously, but had shown some brilliant form in recent times.

It is a far from ideal start to life at the helm for new head coach Wayne Pivac as he heads into his first tournament with the team.

As well as these injuries there are also further concerns regarding the likes of stars Liam Williams and Josh Navidi, who are both currently sidelined through injury, with the former looking likely to miss some part of the Six Nations.

Wales are looking to bounce-back during the tournament following a fourth-place finish at the World Cup, with all players hoping to impress Warren Gatland’s successor.

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International

Why Gatland Turned Down the All Blacks

Warren Gatland has confirmed that he was approached by the All Blacks to fill their vacant head coach position, but has explained why he said no

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Former Wales head coach Warren Gatland has confirmed that he turned down the chance to be in the running as the next New Zealand head coach due to his commitment to the Chiefs and the British and Irish Lions.

Gatland, who finished his time with Wales following their Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan earlier this month, has taken the reins at New Zealand Super Rugby side the Chiefs, with a contract that runs until 2023 and allows for a year out to lead the Lions on their 2021 tour of South Africa

Speaking to Radio Sport Breakfast the Kiwi admitted that it was great to be in the running for the All Blacks position, however, he could not accept as he is loyal to the teams that he had already agreed deals with but isn’t turning down the possibility of having the role in the future.

 “I was contacted about that…it was nice to be contacted I politely declined putting my name forward. I’m a little bit old school…I’d made the commitment to the Chiefs and I’d made the commitment to the Lions, it was important that I carry on with that…honour the commitment I made to those two sides. Maybe sometime in the future I may get that opportunity again,” he said. 

New Zealand Rugby have confirmed that a total of 26 coaches have been given the opportunity to apply for the position, but Gatland is focused on his new job with the Chiefs and believes that if he is meant to have a role with the All Blacks that it will happen later in his career. 

“I’m not one of those people who plan ahead too much…I’m a great believer in what will be will be. For me having been away a long time there are a lot of different challenges and the challenges are to kind re-integrate myself back into New Zealand rugby. If you are successful other opportunities will come along. It was time for me to make a decision to leave Wales and the northern hemisphere and come back to New Zealand and I’m excited by that,” he added. 

Gatland, who had 12 successful years with Wales until his return to New Zealand is preparing for the 2020 Super Rugby season with his new franchise, who have confirmed the signings of promising backs Kini Naholo and Quinn Tupaea ahead of the campaign. 

As well as those youngsters there is a return to New Zealand rugby for fly-half Aaron Cruden, who signed a one-year contract ahead of a move to Japan and both he and Gatland will hope to make big impacts upon their returns to their home nation. 

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