Hansen tells Gatland to harden up or quit

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New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen during the first test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Eden Park, Auckland.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has taken a swipe at Wales mentor Warren Gatland, telling him Wednesday to quit coaching if he doesn’t enjoy it.

Hansen’s barb, sure to spice up next month’s All Blacks’ clash with Wales in Cardiff, came after Gatland claimed he “hated” taking the British and Irish Lions on their mid-year tour to New Zealand. 

The win, loss and a draw from the three Tests could be considered a success from a Lions point of view as it was only the second time they have not lost a series in notoriously difficult New Zealand.

But Gatland’s claim that he “hated the tour. I did. I just hated the press and the negativity in New Zealand”, stunned Hansen. 

“Why would you hate coaching the Lions? If you hate coaching, don’t do it,” Hansen told Radio Sport. 

“I love coaching any team I’ve been involved in – that’s the reason why I’m doing it.

“I’m lucky enough to coach the All Blacks which is fantastic, if you are lucky enough to coach the Lions it is also fantastic.”

Hansen said he constantly faced negativity but he thrived on the pressure.

“Welcome to our world,” he fired at fellow New Zealander Gatland. 

“You are under constant pressure, constant scrutiny. People expect you to be able to front up and do the job well.

“In the All Blacks’ case, we are expected to win every Test match and win it well. You don’t want to change those expectations – they drive your own inner expectations to be even higher. It drives that necessity to want to always be better.”

He added: “Our fans, our country expect us to aim high, to play well, they expect us to win. I love that.” 

The All Blacks leave this week on a five-match northern hemisphere tour which includes Tests with France, Scotland and Wales as well as fixtures against the Barbarians and a French XV.

Hansen acknowledged the side was under-powered with several leading players unavailable through injury or for personal reasons which showed in last weekend’s 23-18 loss to Australia. 

“We’ve got some trying circumstances at the moment with nine or 10 players out … It’s a heck of a great challenge for us to come through, but next year when all nine are available then watch what happens because we’ve grown depth and experience,” he said.