'They should keep supporting them' - Steve Hansen urges Wallabies fans not to give up on rugby

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has urged disenchanted Australian rugby fans to keep supporting the Wallabies despite their Bledisloe Cup drought.

New Zealand have held the trophy since 2003 and Australia last won the series outright in 2001.

The Wallabies win in their most recent encounter was only their second in their last 19 contests against the world champions.

With the lack of success compared to Australia's glory days at the turn of the century, crowds in Sydney have dropped off significantly since then, with next Saturday's attendance at ANZ Stadium expected to fall well short of the venue's 80,000 plus capacity.

"I think that's the local fans probably feeling like they've moved away from Australian rugby and they shouldn't do that," Hansen said upon the All Blacks arrival in Sydney yesterday evening,

"The Australian team, I believe anyway, is a really good side and they should keep supporting them."

Hansen stressed the traditional trans-Tasman rivalry remained relevant despite the lop-sided results of recent years, describing it as "semi-family-like.

"Little brother always likes to beat big brother and big brother doesn't like losing to little brother, so that keeps the competition alive," he said.

"Then players, particularly, get to understand the history of the Bledisloe and they take a pride in that."

Most of the current Wallabies were still at school when Australia last held the Bledisloe.

They would recall Australia ruling the roost at the start of the millennium having won the 1999 World Cup, a series against the British and Irish Lions in 2001, in addition to holding the Bledisloe at the start of the 21st century.

"I really enjoyed going out and watching the Wallabies obviously in a golden era back then and winning lots of games," back Reece Hodge said.

"We were just talking about it during the week, how big the crowds were and how much the support was behind Australia especially when we doing well.

"We want to be the ones to change that and to bring that kind of support and attitude back to Australian rugby."

Hansen said it looked increasingly like versatile Melbourne Rebels back Hodge would fill the Wallabies' No.13 jersey next Saturday.

"You'd call him a utility player and because of that he gets moved around a lot so it's probably to his disadvantage," Hansen said.

"But at the same time he's a pretty handy footballer."

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 09: Pete Samu of the Wallabies celebrates with team mates during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and Ireland at Suncorp Stadium on June 9, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)
Pete Samu of the Wallabies celebrates with team mates during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and Ireland Source: Getty


'Their event is inferior' - British All Blacks critic says Six Nations superior to Rugby Championship

British rugby writer and All Blacks critic Stephen Jones has now taken a swipe at the Southern Hemisphere game as a whole, declaring the Rugby Championship to be "the second division of the global game."

With the current world rankings seeing the All Blacks at number one, Southern Hemisphere sides aren't represented again until number five, with Ireland, Wales and England the next sides bridging the gap between New Zealand and Australia.

Writing for the Sunday Times, Jones didn't hold back in his criticism of the Rugby Championship, declaring it inferior to the Six Nations.

"It is impossible not to regard the Rugby Championship, which begins next weekend in Sydney and Durban, as the Second Division of the global game," Jones says.

"Some precious dears Down Under can be a little sensitive to criticism of their rugby but this time we have not a shred of circumstantial evidence to back up the claim that their event is inferior. All we have are facts.

"In World Rugby’s rankings, the competing teams stand first (New Zealand) but then fifth (Australia), sixth (South Africa) and 10th (Argentina). The Six Nations teams are second (Ireland), third (Wales), fourth (England) and seventh (France) with Italy 14th. Ah well, those southern softies will catch up one day."

However, while usually a vocal critic of the All Blacks, Jones did state that New Zealand would take some beating if any other side are to triumph at next year's World Cup in Japan.

"The signs are that come Japan 2019, New Zealand will not be the only team in the race but the next month or two must reveal proper contenders, second-ranking event or not.

"New Zealand will surely come out ahead but the world needs evidence that the demolishing of the black machine is on the horizon."

Autumn International, Twickenham, London 8/11/2014  
England vs New Zealand All Blacks
New Zealand's Ryan Crotty is held up short
Photo: James Crombie/www.photosport.co.nz
The match is the first between the All Blacks and England since 2014. Source: Photosport



Steve Hansen declares 2018 Wallabies 'even more dangerous' ahead of Bledisloe Opener

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen rates the 2018 Wallabies more dangerous than last year's model and isn't backing away from branding them favourites for their opening clash.

The defending Rugby Championship winners and long-time Bledisloe Cup holders arrived in Sydney on Sunday evening, six days before their match at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.

Hansen continued his complimentary assessment of the Wallabies, rating them "a really good side" after their three-Test home series loss to Six Nations champions Ireland.

"They won that first one and the second two games they didn't get much luck did they, so it could have gone either way that series," Hansen said.

"I thought they got a lot of intensity, they played with a lot of skill."

He felt the Wallabies were benefiting from the work of skills coach Michael Byrne, who formerly held a similar position with New Zealand rugby.

"The work Mick has been doing with them, their running lines are really good, their passes have got a lot better, so it's going to make them even more dangerous," Hansen said.

While New Zealand blew Australia away in the first half of last year's Bledisloe opener, Hansen suggested the Wallabies would benefit form having a trial just over two weeks out from Saturday's game.

"I think they have learnt from that haven't they and they've had a game,' Hansen said.

"Every year we have a bit of a game for the guys that don't make it too far in the (Super Rugby) finals and I think that's all the difference was.

'It was a titanic struggle for the other two games."

The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe since 2003, but Hansen last week declared Australia were worthy of favouritism this year.

He reiterated that opinion on Sunday, based on Australia winning their most recent contest, the 2017 dead rubber.

"They won the last one, they have to be (favourites) don't they?" Hansen said.

The reduced number of Super Rugby teams in Australia has the Wallabies in better shape for the Bledisloe Cup, the All Blacks coach has said. Source: 1 NEWS