Steve Hansen earns big tick for media relations
The accolades keep coming for Steve Hansen. The International Rugby Board and New Zealand Rugby Union coach of the year received a bouquet - and warning - from his boss yesterday.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said the transformation of Hansen's public persona was a highlight of the rugby year.
During his eight years as Graham Henry's assistant, Hansen was often viewed as a grumpy curmudgeon with a distaste for public relations duties and media interviews.
But a change in attitude, possibly a reflection of the tutelage received from PR guru Ian Fraser in recent years, and a convincing record of 12 wins, one draw and a loss, resulted in Hansen displaying a sense of humour and being refreshingly honest about team selections.
Tew admitted he wished Hansen had showed his sunny side earlier.
"Steve has done a good job. He has become a lot more confident and open with you guys [the media] and I think the real Steve Hansen has come out, which is something I have been seeking to happen for quite a lot of time."
Before Hansen replaced Henry it is understood the former's reluctance to engage with the public through the media was a concern for some NZRU administrators.
Those fears have been soothed but Tew is also cautious about getting too hyped about the dramatic turnaround.
"But he has also had a very good year," Tew said. "The test will be if we have a more challenging set of results, won't it. That is when you have got to deal with the tougher side of the relationship we have with the media."
An NZRU review of Hansen's performance has not yet been started but it seems likely he will want to keep his management crew and selector Grant Fox involved.
Tew was also impressed by how Hansen dealt with the loss of his father, Des, who died days before the test against the Wallabies in Brisbane on October 20.
"Steve is a very confident, I think a very humorous individual and we are just seeing a bit more of the normal Steve Hansen," Tew said.
"He has had a tough year, actually. I thought he got through losing Des really well. It was very challenging to lose his father, who he was close to."