One question in New Zealand's post-match conference rattled Steve Hansen 2 months ago

One question in New Zealand's post-match conference rattled Steve Hansen

'Shag' wasn't standing for this.

Accusing a New Zealand team of a lack of hunger is a brave move, but the reporter - having watched England dominate the now-dethroned world champions - must have felt like it was a valid question. Steven Hansen certainly did not see it that way.

For the first time since the 2007 World Cup quarter final, a New Zealand team know what it is like to be on the losing side at rugby's biggest tournament. The three-time world champions were turned over by an impressive English outfit in the semi-finals and will now have to prepare themselves for a 3rd/4th place playoff.

England went 7-0 ahead after two minutes and never looked back. In the end, George Ford's four penalties were enough for the 19-7 victory but England were far better than even that final scoreline suggests.

For rugby-mad New Zealand, the tattoos and newspaper headlines (below) are now dictionary definitions of hubris.

Where All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and captain Kieran Read are concerned, though, one could never accuse them of getting above their station.

Both men, as well as New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster, spoke remarkably well after their side's last four defeat and all three were glowing in their praise of England.

Near the end of a softly, softly press conference, in Yokohama, a question from one reporter bridled Hansen. It was:

'Kieran, Steve mentioned before, I think, 'We needed to get hungry and desperate before it was too late'. From your point of view, and from the players' point of view, did the team turn up with the right attitude tonight?'

Read responded that his team had shown up with the right attitude. "You've seen how hard we worked out there," he said. "Definitely. The boys really wanted it."

The All Blacks captain, not really enjoying his 34th birthday too much, went on to speak about work-rate and hanging in there before Hansen could take no more. In defence of his players, Steve Hansen declared:

"I'd just like to clear that up, too, because I think that's quite a disrespectful question - to suggest that the All Blacks turned up not being hungry.

"They're desperate to win the game. Because I've asked them at half-time to get HUNGRIER doesn't mean to say that they didn't turn up 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 a semi-final of a Rugby World Cup - with the amount of ability and the history that it's had behind it - that's a pretty average question, I reckon."

There was still time left for two more questions and, luckily for haters of tension, they were soft-balls.

The final question went to Read and he could almost not comprehend how banal it was. He was asked, 'Kieran, obviously disappointing but you live for games like this. It was a great game. Were you still able to enjoy the battles you had out there?'

Deep breath, polite answer, let's get out of here.

This was not how Steve Hansen, Kieran Read and Ian Foster pictured their Saturday night in Yokohama finishing up.