All Blacks: Steve Hansen hits out at New Zealand Rugby, supports Ian Foster

Date published: July 28 2022 - David Skippers

Former New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has waded into the debate over the All Blacks’ poor recent form by criticising the New Zealand Rugby board and defending his under-fire successor, Ian Foster.

There’s been a huge uproar in the country after Ireland made history earlier this month by becoming the first side to win a Test series against the All Blacks in New Zealand since 1994.

Unfair criticism

Foster and All Blacks captain Sam Cane bore the brunt of the backlash from the team’s supporters but Hansen believes criticism of the duo is unfair.

He feels New Zealand Rugby (NZR) bosses should shoulder most of the blame as they were undermining their players, made a mess of leadership traditions and were not doing enough for age-grade rugby.

“The relationship between the board and the exec with the players at the moment is probably the worst it’s ever been,” Hansen told Today FM.

“I don’t think they’re doing their job right.

“I don’t think the issue is just inside the team, I think there’s bigger issues than that.”

He feels former NZR chairman Brent Impey, who stepped down from his position in May, is to blame for destroying relations with New Zealand’s players during the negotiations over a huge cash injection in a groundbreaking deal with US-based private equity firm Silver Lake.

Hansen insists the breakdown of relationships has led to unhappiness across the game in New Zealand and called for a review of the NZR board.

“If you look back to when we were really successful from 2010 to 2019 which was out most successful era … the board and exec at the rugby union were humming,” he said.

“There was complete togetherness and connection with the actual All Black team.”

The 63-year-old Hansen used New Zealand’s recent World Rugby U20 Championship performances, which have not been as good as previous years, as an example of deeper problems.

The Baby Blacks won the first four titles of that competition between 2008 and 2011 but have won just two of the eight tournaments since then and finished seventh in the latest edition in 2019.

“We’ve got to look wider than (the Ireland loss),” he said.

Hansen said Foster needs support as he “goes through adversity” and drew a comparison between Cane to and legendary captain Ritchie McCaw, who led the All Blacks to back-to-back World Cup triumphs in 2011 and 2015.

“I am probably sitting in the seat best to be able to quantify whether (Foster) is a good coach or not because I coached with him for 16 years at the highest level. He’s a very good coach,” said Hansen.

“We have to believe in (Cane). We have to support him. He’ll come right. He’s too good a player not to come right. He just needs time in the saddle.”

Scott Robertson factor

Meanwhile, Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson gave an interview to The Rugby Pod in which he said he still has ambitions to coach at Test level.

The NZR opted for Foster ahead of Robertson for the All Blacks coaching job in 2019.

Hansen said Robertson, who has won six Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders, is “a wonderful coach” who was “positioning himself and good on him”.

“His time will come and then we’ll see if he’s ready or not,” he added. “The difference between Super Rugby and international rugby is massive.”

READ MORE: Rugby Championship: Five storylines to follow including Ian Foster’s precarious position and Boks dominance