Steve Hansen accepted New Zealand were beaten by a better team in their Rugby World Cup semi-final loss to England, but the All Blacks coach reacted angrily to the attitude of his side being called into question.
Hansen was full of praise for England, who reached the final with a richly deserved 19-7 triumph in Yokohama that ended New Zealand’s hopes of winning a third successive World Cup.
However, the departing All Blacks chief took exception to a follow-up question after revealing he had urged his players to “get hungry and desperate before it was too late” with New Zealand trailing 10-0 at half-time.
That comment prompted a reporter to ask skipper Kieran Read whether the team had “turned up with the right attitude”.
After Read responded, a stern-faced Hansen said: “I’d just like to clear that up because I think it’s quite a disrespectful question, to suggest the All Blacks turned up not being hungry. They’re desperate to win the game.
“Because I’ve asked them at half-time to get hungrier, it doesn’t mean to say they didn’t turn up to be hungry. There’s a big difference and if you want to spend some time outside I’ll give you a rugby education on that one.
“To turn up and say an All Black team comes to a semi-final of the Rugby World Cup, with the amount of ability and history it’s had behind it, to say it’s not hungry, that’s a pretty average question, I reckon.”
Congratulations to @englandrugby on a fantastic performance today. World class. Good luck in final. Tough day at the office for the @AllBlacks but these make us stronger. Proud kiwi. Kia Kaha #rememberyourlosses pic.twitter.com/pukNY36hSd
— Sean Fitzpatrick (@SFitzpatrick92) October 26, 2019
Read said: “You’ve seen how hard we worked out there. Definitely the boys really wanted it. The detail of the match probably didn’t go our way, but our work rate and how much we really wanted it was there.
“The guys absolutely turned up with as much as we could bring and we fell short. It’s a hard thing to sit here and try and tell you exactly why it is, but we were short today, we’re hurting because of it and we’ll move on.”
England’s magnificent display drew plaudits from Hansen but the veteran coach also talked up his own players.
“We’ve got no regrets, I’m very proud of the All Blacks,” Hansen added. “I think this tournament they’ve played particularly well and tonight we just got beaten by the better side. Sometimes you might find that sport’s not fair, but tonight it was. We got beaten by the better side, so congratulations to them.
Congratulations to the @englandrugby team. Too good tonight lads, good luck at the big dance next week.
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) October 26, 2019
“We played as well as we possibly could, we just got beaten by a better team and we have to take that on the chin.
“If you don’t achieve what you want to do, you have to put your big boy pants on and stand up and be counted. It doesn’t stop you from hurting, it just means you’ve just got to accept what’s been chucked at you. Sometimes sport does that to you.
“They’re a good team, so there’s no shame in getting beaten by them. There’s a lot of hurt in it and that adversity will feed a lot more All Black teams in the future so we’ll find one positive out of it.”
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