Hansen prizes Wales scalp above all others
November 5, 2012
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has offered a word of warning to Wales ahead of their clash later this month © Getty Images
All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has revealed he values a victory over Wales higher than any of their Six Nations rivals.
Hansen endured two difficult years in charge of Wales between 2002-04 during which time his side picked up the Six Nations wooden spoon and suffered a record 11 straight defeats. But a quarter-final appearance at the 2003 Rugby World Cup went some way to restoring his reputation and paved the way for him to link up with the All Blacks as an assistant to Graham Henry - his predecessor with Wales.
He took on the All Blacks' top job following their World Cup triumph last year and has since seen his all-conquering side claim the Rugby Championship crown. They will look to cap an outstanding and so far unbeaten year with victories over Scotland, Italy, Wales and England on their unbeaten tour but Hansen insists one victory would be prized amongst all others.
"It is a rare thing and it is always nice going back to Wales," Hansen told the Western Mail. "It is a special place for me and I felt as if I had 25 years of experience in three seasons.
"It was a good time because I learned a lot and met some great people. But it is like anything and they (Wales) are the ones you want to beat the most. So let's hope we go over there and put in a performance that we can be proud of."
Hansen's side kick off their tour against Scotland at Murrayfield this weekend with their last defeat in the northern hemisphere coming in their infamous World Cup quarter-final clash against France at the Millennium Stadium in 2007.
"I think people should look to enjoy these occasions playing Wales and England because they are going to be rippers," he added. "Wales will be really backing themselves to put one over on us. Those are the types of challenges you need at this time of year because it has been a long 12 months and you need something to get you motivated.
"Our fans have huge expectations but you would not want that to change anyway. It is those expectations which have set the scene for every All Black team in our history. If the fans' expectation is high, the players and coaches have to set that level of expectation even higher. That has helped created the legacy we have today."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Family is Jean's priority and he puts that into a team context." Firdose Moonda pays tribute to Jean de Villiers with input from Allister Coetzee
The Monday Maul turns its attention to drunken nights out, a blunt-talking coach, hidden agendas and crooked feeds
As if beating the Springboks and Pumas on their home turf is not onerous enough Australia, it also involves a road trip from hell writes Greg Growden
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer