Rugby's big fish lures locals

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 13:25 25/01/2013
Steve Hansen
COLIN SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ
TIME OUT: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, left, chats with Steve Orrah, of Stoke, at the Turf Hotel last night.

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It was a good night to be an All Blacks' fan at The Turf with a "real character" of New Zealand rugby, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, taking time out of his holiday to meet with local enthusiasts.

Starting his second year in charge of the national side, Hansen wasn't at the Turf Hotel last night to talk about rotation, or the rigours of test rugby. As he casually leaned on the corner of a table with a beer nestled in his hand, Hansen was more interested in trying to garner some local fishing knowledge, about where the best spots to drop a line were.

Fans from 5 to 65 were able to get a photo and a signature, or just shake the man's hand and have a yarn about the days of champagne rugby. And, all were impressed Hansen had made time to drop into Stoke.

Steve Orrah was among the first to engage the "big man", but rather than grill him on who will back up Richie McCaw this year, "we just talked about his holiday", said Mr Orrah.

"He said he has been having a good time, enjoying Kaiteriteri and [doing] a bit of boating."

Never really off the job as the All Blacks coach, Hansen may have been here covertly uncovering the future opensides of New Zealand, like young Richie Kett.

Richie's mother Alex Kett said, although no-one played rugby in the family, they were all devoted fans of the All Blacks.

"He is named after Richie McCaw," said Mrs Kett "He is not a member of a club yet because he is only 5, but he loves kicking his ball around and he loves to watch the All Blacks."

Mrs Kett said she was blown away that the All Blacks coach was at the local.

"It is great he will just come and be amongst the people in a small part of New Zealand, and his manner with everybody was great."

Like many people of the mainland mould, born in Dunedin and a member of the Canterbury NPC side of the 1980s, the former centre headed to the top of the south to soak up some sun for his holidays.

Local businessman and vice- president of the Tasman Rugby Union, Shane Drummond, had organised a bach for him to use in Little Kaiteri.

"It's nice to come down and support Drummy at the local, and meet some lovely people," said Hansen.

"It's nice to mix with the people that support us, saying gidday and it's nice to be able to do that."

Hansen was due to leave Kaiteriteri today, and head back to his home in Christchurch.

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- Nelson

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