Hansen acclaims 'humble' All Blacks
CARDIFF (AFP) –
Steve Hansen refused to call his world champion New Zealand side the best ever, but instead praised their humility after they put Wales to the sword in their season’s penultimate match.
The All Blacks posted a convincing 33-10 victory over the Welsh at the Millennium Stadium, Aaron Cruden kicking 18 points to go with three tries from Liam Messam, Tony Woodcock and Luke Romano to consign the home side to a 25th consecutive defeat by New Zealand.
Wales were 26-0 down shortly after the break but scored two tries through Scott Williams and Alex Cuthbert in a late fightback.
“What I like about this team is that they want to play rugby,” Hansen said of the All Blacks, dubbing them “humble”.
“We were pretty clinical for the first 60-65 minutes. We did things pretty well and took our opportunities.
“In the last 20 minutes, we lost our way a bit and kicked away a bit too much ball. But overall, it’s our second-last game of the season and it’s pretty good.”
Hansen, who coached Wales from 2002-4, praised Cruden for stepping up to the plate after coming in as a late replacement for usual playmaker Dan Carter.
“I thought he was outstanding. He drove us around the park for the first 60 minutes,” he said.
“He was pinpoint in his kicking. He’s got to be proud of that performance.”
Hansen called Wales’ decision not to go for goal, instead kicking for the corner, “crazy”.
“I’m not sure why Wales did not want to take their points, I’m sure that is something that they will talk about after. Maybe they didn’t feel they had to against us?
“I don’t know if their kicker would get them, but points on the table makes the game tougher.”
Captain and flanker Richie McCaw, man-of-the-match after another dominant display at the breakdown, credited Wales with not buckling.
“They fronted up. It was a good physical battle and one of the more physical I’ve been involved in for a while,” he said.
“They stuck to their guns, but we didn’t help by giving them some ball to attack with.
“But to win by 23 points in a place like this is a great result.”
McCaw will lead his side, on a 20-match unbeaten streak, against England next weekend before stepping down from international rugby for a six-month sabbatical.
“It’ll be my last game until the middle of next year,” he said. “Physically it’s not so much a problem, but I need to freshen up because I’ve been on the treadmill a bit.
“When I get back I’ll carry on playing as long as I can.”
Hansen added: The World Cup was massive for him, but we want him to pack an empty bag and disappear. He needs a lot of ‘me-time’ without being in the spotlight.
“I don’t know where he can go where no one knows him, but we’ll find somewhere and buy him a ticket.”