New Zealand
All Blacks can't afford to lose Steve Hansen
ESPN Staff
December 8, 2014
Steve Hansen's record as All Blacks coach stands at 38 wins from 42 games © Getty Images
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The New Zealand Rugby Union is being urged to extend the contract of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.

Hansen's current deal runs through to the end of next year but there is a growing feeling he should be locked down sooner rather than later, both because of his amazing success and the fact that team stalwarts like skipper Richie McCaw and centre Conrad Smith are likely to depart Test rugby after the World Cup.

Hansen's experience could help to negotiate a difficult period in New Zealand rugby, although there would ultimately be somewhat of a negative backlash should the All Blacks fail to defend their World Cup crown.

Former NZRU chairman Mike Eagle said Hansen deserved the chance to further develop the young talent he'd introduced into Test rugby over the last few years.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know there are going to be quite a few experienced players who will exit after this World Cup," Eagle told Christchurch's The Press. "We know that for sure. So why wouldn't you leave Steve Hansen there to bring through the younger ones he has already introduced to the team? Better the apple you know than the apple you don't."

Hansen, who served as Graham Henry's assistant at the last World Cup, has already stated his desire to coach on."If it's going to happen it's got to be right for the team and got to be right for the family," he said after the All Blacks wrapped up an unbeaten spring tour with a 34-16 win over Wales. "I don't want it to be dragging on well into next year. I want it done as soon as possible if it's going to happen."

Hansen has won 38 of his 42 Tests in charge with his only defeats coming against England at Twickenham in 2012 and South Africa in Johannesburg in this year's Rugby Championship. It's a record the envy of coaches the world over and the principle reason why a $1 million price-tag has been floated should Hansen's deal be extended. It's more likely to be about half that. Still, Hansen's demands - whatever they turn out to be - must be met, according to the New Zealand Herald's Gregor Paul.

"Under Hansen, the All Blacks haven't given away anything," Paul wrote on Sunday. "England splatted them fair and square and South Africa, on balance, played better rugby for longer periods this year. Two measly defeats in three years . . . that really is worth, on market rates, close to $1 million a year. He's not thought to be asking for anywhere near that, but does have a case that the NZRU need to bring their thinking in line with the rest of the world.

"They are understood to have pegged the head coaching job in the $500,000-$600,000 bracket. The NZRU are thought to be a bit nervous, believing they can't afford Hansen. They need to see it the other way - they can't afford to lose Hansen."

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