New Zealand coach Steve Hansen attends a press conference after a 19-7 loss against England. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen attends a press conference after a 19-7 loss against England. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Journo defends ‘disrespectful’ question

A Kiwi journalist has defended a question which All Blacks coach Steve Hansen called "disrespectful", shortly after his team was sent packing from the Rugby World Cup.

At his post-match press conference, following the All Blacks' lacklustre 19-7 semi-final defeat against England, a clearly dejected Hansen chided TV3 reporter Andrew Gourdie for asking whether the All Blacks failed to turn up with the right mentality.

Hansen, answering a question directed at All Blacks captain Kieran Read, took offence at the suggestion the All Blacks might have underestimated the English - and offered to give Gourdie a "rugby education" if he wanted to "spend some time outside".

Gourdie told Newshub it was Hansen's own words about what he told the players at halftime that provided context for the question.

"I think, when you consider the sort of start England made to this match - they scored early, they exploded out of the blocks, they were dominant upfront at set-piece and breakdown, the sorts of areas you'd expect the All Blacks to control - it seemed like a fairly reasonable question to ask," Gourdie said.

"Especially when you consider that Steve Hansen has twice this year referenced his team's attitude - after the defeat to the Wallabies in Perth and again after a sub-par first half display against Namibia at this World Cup.

"As you would have heard, it really was his own words - he was asked what he said to his team at halftime, and he said he needed his team to be more hungry and more desperate before it was too late. It was his own words that provided the context for the question.

"Let's face it, it's a question you would ask of any team, any coach and any player after a defeat like this on an occasion like this.

"Obviously, it evoked an emotional response at an emotional moment - that's just the way it is sometimes."

Here is how the exchange unfolded.

Gourdie: "Kieran, Steve mentioned before … he said we needed to get hungry and desperate before it was too late. From your point of view, from the players' point of view I suppose, did the team turn up with the right attitude tonight?"

Read: "Yeah, I think we did. You've seen how hard we worked out there. Definitely the boys really wanted it. I think with the detail of the match it didn't go our way but the work rate and how much we really wanted it was there. You could see it even in the first half when you could see we came back and hung in there. It's really gutting when it doesn't go your way. It's a hard thing to take and we're all hurting."

Hansen: "I'd just like to clear that up. I think it's quite a disrespectful question to suggest that the All Blacks turned up not being hungry. They were desperate to win the game. Because I asked them at halftime to get hungrier doesn't mean to say they didn't turn up pretty hungry. There's a big difference and if you want to spend some time outside I'll give you a rugby education on that one. But to turn up and say an All Blacks team comes to the semi-final of a Rugby World Cup with the amount of ability and the history it has behind it … that's not hungry, that's a pretty average question."


Head coach Steve Hansen of the All Blacks speaks to the media. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Head coach Steve Hansen of the All Blacks speaks to the media. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

In the immediate aftermath of the crushing defeat, Hansen wandered off to the side of the field where he made a phone call. He then spoke with former All Blacks coach Graham Henry and centre Conrad Smith.

Asked who he called, the coach needed to compose himself to prevent an emotional response that would lead television bulletins for days to come.

"I rang my wife," Hansen said, pausing to take a sip of water in order to hold back tears. "And we had a bit of a chat.

"I then talked to Ted and Conrad about '07 and we mentioned the fact it's no different, the same gutting feeling.

"Then Ted and I talked about how well George Ford had played. Ted had quite a few comments and I did a bit of listening, trying to do a bit of learning, and then you just move on don't you?

"Is it hard to stomach? Course it is. It's gut-wrenching because we wanted to win the thing but so did they. Life's not fair so why would sport be fair. You don't always get the thing you want. And when you don't you've got to measure your character on how you deal with that."

This article was originally published by the New Zealand Herald and reproduced with permission