Hansen in the dark over Kahui departure
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All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has admitted to being "disappointed" and "frustrated" by the lack of communication from Richard Kahui around his departure offshore.
Kahui confirmed last week he was heading to Japan to take up a two-year deal at the end of the current Super Rugby campaign, though he has indicated he intends to return to New Zealand rugby, possibly as early as the 2015 season.
If Kahui hopes to compete for a place in the All Blacks World Cup squad, he has not exactly got off on the right foot, with Hansen confirming today on LiveSport's breakfast show that he had been in the dark about Kahui's offshore move.
"We have spoken to him about his option to go to Japan," Hansen told the show. "We were very disappointed with that because he didn't really speak to us, or his agent didn't.
"I always find that a bit frustrating."
Hansen cautioned that Kahui, who would be regarded as a potential successor to Conrad Smith at centre, was taking a risk by leaving the New Zealand game at this point.
"He's talked about coming back, but he, like everybody else, takes a big risk when they leave because there's other people here who have got talent.
"But he's weighed that up and believes he can come back. Hopefully he does and hopefully he comes back and plays to the level that can get him selected."
Hansen admitted he had been surprised by the lack of communication from Kahui's representatives around his opportunities in Japan.
"Normally you hear from them, then you've got an opportunity to discuss it, and put a reasonable offer and if you want them to stay you've got an opportunity to fight to keep them.
"In this case we didn't so that was a bit disappointing. But we've discussed that and moved on."
Kahui has been used both as a centre and wing during his 17 tests for the All Blacks, but has had his international career severely curtailed by repeated shoulder injuries.
It's these injuries that many believe have prompted Kahui to take his offshore earner sooner rather than later. He is 27 now and he clearly backs himself to come through two seasons in Japan and return in good enough to nick to challenge for another World Cup.
The Chiefs back loomed as an important figure this season for the All Blacks, both as a midfield option and on the wing, where Cory Jane's absence will open opportunities up for someone in the first part of the international season.
Hansen said he was not too concerned about the wing situation, even with Jane likely to be out action.
"The way we're look at it, if someone gets injured, or someone goes offshore, or someone goes on sabbatical even, it's an opportunity for us to find out some more about other people. With 2015 in mind that's a good thing.
"If we can give people opportunities at training camps or to be involved in test matches, that experience is invaluable.
"We see it as a positive rather than a negative. It is disappointing to lose players to injury and offshore but we can't control it."
Hansen was also surprisingly upbeat about wayward Crusaders wing Zac Guildford re-entering the national selection picture.
Guildford is currently on indefinite leave from the Crusaders while he seeks treatment for his drinking problems, but all indications are that New Zealand rugby will welcome him back when he fulfils those obligations.
"What Zac's got to do is prove himself to himself," Hansen said. "He's got to go through the process he's doing at the moment.
"From what I hear he's making some strides. Once he does that the rugby side will look after itself. Once he gives himself the ability to play with all the talent he has - we all know he's got plenty of it - it won't be that hard to be open-minded because I'm sure he'll be back on track."
Hansen was also relaxed at this stage at the prospect of bringing a new No 7 through while skipper Richie McCaw is on sabbatical.
"Sam Cane did plenty last year to make us get excited about his capabilities, we're hearing a lot about Ardie Savea,
Tanera Latimer had a massive season last year, and I've always liked the look of [John] Hardie down at the Highlanders.
"There are plenty of 7s about and the fact Richie's not there is just going to give someone else an opportunity."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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