Seemingly-sleepy All Blacks coach Steve Hansen managed the national team to a well-comfortable win against the Ockers last night. There were a few work-ons, but these days everyone’s disappointed if there’s no work-ons, so champion work all around.
Like I tweeted, I thought Steve Hansen really dug deep on the pre-match mind games, with a cooly delivered two card trick that, all going to plan, would have had new Wallabies coach Ewan McKenzie rocking back and forth on the shower floor before he’d even started a game.
You can watch it here – let’s break it down bit by bit.
Reporter: *Near-inaudible question regarding timing of naming the team*
Hansen: “I think the better question is…”
Bam! Press conference taken over. The man with the toughest job in the country doesn’t have time to muck around with *questions*, he’s got to get inside his opposite’s head and get back to training and that, quick smart.
Hansen: “…is he feeling a bit mentally challenged because he doesn’t know what five-eighth he wants to play. …I’m imagining that when Robbie Deans…”
Blammo! “Doesn’t know what five-eighth he wants to play” is as organised as leaving the house without your phone or brain when it comes to picking an international rugby team, while the words ‘Robbie’ and ‘Deans’ are shorthand for ‘worst case scenario’ and as welcome as a Dom Harvey dick pic in the Wallabies camp. Related – I expect to hear more, much more, about Dingo in All Blacks pressers in the weeks ahead.
Hansen: “…wasn’t picking Quade Cooper he was saying ‘I’ll pick you Quade, I’ll pick you.’ Now, ah, our information is they’re going to pick the other bloke…”
Pow! This is Hemmingway-like – so much conveyed in such economical fashion. There’s (at least) three points here:
1. This little McKenzie / Cooper chat is indeed what everyone was imagining what was going on when Deans was coach, and McKenzie recalling Cooper was indeed one of the key arguments for restoring Wallaby X factor. Plan B had better be good, Ewan.
2. YOU HAVE INFORMATION? INFORMATION THAT’S RIGHT?!?!?
3. “The other bloke.” This says: “I don’t even know what this guy’s name is, and certainly can’t be arsed wikipedia-ing it.”
Hansen: “Now there’s only two reasons they wouldn’t want to tell them, one he’s not sure himself…”
Balooga! Can you say “You’ve waited an age for this chance, and now you’ve got the big job with the Qantas blazer and everything, you have no idea what you’re doing?” Bonus points for pausing a good two or three seconds before continuing, just to let that point sink in.
Hansen: “…or he doesn’t think they can handle the pressure of being out in public too early. Doesn’t bother us, don’t mind a hoot who they play.”
Zlott! indeed. Hansen wraps up this little elbow-in-the-ribs-using-words with a cold, hard truth – the All Blacks really couldn’t give a used jockstrap who the Wallabies field. On the XXXX side of the Tasman it’s new starts, rebuilding and the unknown, while the All Blacks have the luxury of choosing between world cup winners, or up-and-comers that look like they’d treat the Wallaby onslaught with all the ease of a Care Bear onslaught. Not easy to get a good night’s sleep with that hanging over you.
And after the never-in-doubt 47-29 win, Hansen finished the job he’d started mid week with: “But I think they’ve got the nucleus of a very good side and I think they’ve had a nucleus of a very good side for a long time.”
Ka-blam! Sorry Ewan, but Shag reckons changing coach hasn’t made the slightest bit of difference – you’ve got a bit to do to prove you’re not Dingo in disguise.