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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 10 December, 2018
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Hansen to decide on future next month as Ireland hope to hang onto Schmidt

The All Blacks boss says Ireland will find out how it feels to be the best side in the world.

STEVE HANSEN SAYS he will confirm a decision on his future next month, with his current All Blacks contract set to expire after the 2019 World Cup.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, whose side beat the Kiwis for the second time last night, is also due to announce a decision on his future plans imminently.

Joe Schmidt before the game Schmidt's side beat the Kiwis 16-9 last night. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Schmidt, also out of contract after the World Cup, has vowed to confirm his call on whether to stay with Ireland or leave before the end of this month.

Should Hansen move on from his position with the All Blacks, Schmidt would be among the leading contenders for the position – unless he has already signed a new deal with the IRFU.

There should be clarity on Schmidt’s plans in the next fortnight, meaning there are still nervous times ahead for his biggest fans.

“We’re all going to be making announcements shortly,” said Hansen this morning at the All Blacks’ team hotel in Dublin.

“Not right now… I decided before I left that I was going to make one and I’ll do that when I get home at some stage around Christmas.”  

The morning after the night before in Dublin and Steve Hansen still insisted he views Ireland as the number one team in the world following their 16-9 win over the All Blacks in Dublin.

Schmidt’s side remain number two in the official World Rugby rankings but New Zealand boss Hansen claims they lead the way.

Joe Schmidt and Steve Hansen before the game Schmidt and Hansen share a word pre-match in Dublin. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

It’s hardly a surprise that the Kiwi coach would welcome the opportunity to put some pressure on last night’s victors, although he also expressed his admiration for Schmidt’s team again in explaining how they have improved to the extent that he sees them as top side in the global game.

“They’re fitter, so whoever is doing their conditioning work needs a pat on the back,” said Hansen.

“Their defence is great. Both teams last night defended for long periods really, really well, so Andy [Farrell] is a great defence coach.

“Their scrum was good, it took us a while to get on top of that. So everybody in the team is doing their bit and Joe is obviously leading it very well. They’ve become a team that believes in themselves and are priding themselves on how they’re playing.

“It’s their turn at the moment so we’ll see how they cope with that.”

Ireland defence coach Farrell has deservedly been receiving plaudits in the aftermath of the home victory.

Remarkably, last night was the first time New Zealand have been kept tryless by a Northern Hemisphere national team – therefore excluding the Lions – since France did it in 1995.

Farrell has also previously helped England to beat the Kiwis in 2012, Ireland get their first win over the All Blacks in Chicago in 2016 and played a key role in the Lions downing the New Zealanders in Wellington in 2017.

Steve Hansen and Andy Farrell before the game Hansen and Farrell chat in Dublin. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

What’s the key to his success as a defence coach against the Kiwis?

“They don’t give you a lot of room, they are well drilled and know what they need to do,” said Hansen.

“We got beaten in Wellington with 14 men, so I don’t know if you can put that down to the defence. We drew in Auckland in the last [Test against the Lions] and again created opportunities in the first 20 to 30 minutes of the game and should have won it by half-time – another example of not taking the things that are there and you get bitten.

“In 2012, we had a team full of norovirus so we had 29 athletes coming out of both ends so we struggled that day to get on the park, let alone compete.

“But the short answer, what’s he good at? He is good at organising his team and filling up the space on the park, and he does that really well.”

The atmosphere at the Aviva Stadium last night was memorable, a loud night in which the supporters drove the players to even greater heights.

Hansen wasn’t able to fully appreciate the volume in the coaches’ box but he could see how much it meant to the home support at the final whistle.

“It’s a hell of a city to come to,” said Hansen. “You don’t tour many places that are like this country and the people are great, and they’re getting a bit of success that they’ve longed for, for a long, long time.

“And they’ve taken the monkey off Munster’s back, haven’t they? They’re going to make more players now and more money. But just the joy that people got out of it was fantastic and good on ‘em.” 

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Murray Kinsella

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