• Hansen: Boks deserved to win

    All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says the Springboks were the better team at Ellis Park, reports JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg.

    The All Blacks are the current world champions. They recently clinched their third successive Rugby Championship title. On Saturday, however, they were No 2 and not No 1 in the game of the 2014 season.

    This is the view of Hansen, the head coach of the most accomplished team on the planet. The All Blacks started the game poorly and did well to fight back in the second half. It’s for this reason that Hansen wasn’t too disappointed with the result afterwards.

    ‘It was a great game of rugby, and they deserved to win it,’ he said. ‘We showed composure to fight back, but couldn’t get the result in the end.

    ‘I have no problem with the penalty awarded by the referee [for Liam Messam’s shoulder charge on Schalk Burger in the 79th minute]. It was the right call by Wayne Barnes. I felt that last penalty [won by Duane Vermeulen at the breakdown when the All Blacks were on the attack], could have gone either way. But that’s how it goes.

    ‘The Boks were long overdue this result. Now they’ve got one against us. Maybe [the detractors] will get off Heyneke Meyer’s back now.‘

    Hansen said that while the All Blacks hate to lose, they were thrilled to be a part of an outstanding game of rugby. The atmosphere inside Ellis Park was also something special, as captain Richie McCaw confirmed.

    ‘There’s very little between these two teams,' McCaw said. 'We’ve seen that in the past few years. The majority of the players from both groups will probably be around when we meet again next year, so we can look forward to another great contest. I’m proud of the way we played today, but we will have to get better before then.

    ‘I love playing here at Ellis Park,’ the All Blacks skipper added. ‘This was my second game at the ground, but it’s the kind of thing you dream about as a youngster. The atmosphere was brilliant and the field was dry, and you’re playing against the Boks.’

    McCaw reiterated the respect the All Blacks have for the Boks. His opposite number, Jean de Villiers, said the feeling is mutual, and that together the two teams are taking the game to the next level.

    ‘These past few meetings, they’ve been colossal,’ said the Bok captain. ‘In Wellington, it could have gone either way, and it could have gone either way here at Ellis Park. It’s great for the game, the brand of rugby the two teams are delivering just keeps getting better.

    ‘They are two special groups of players, who have a good relationship off the field. We play hard, and if we lose, we take it on the chin, and still take time to mix with the opposition afterwards. That is something that you don’t often see in the professional era, but these two teams are bringing it back.’

    Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

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    Jon Cardinelli