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A painful knockout loss in 2007 was the catalyst for an All Blacks resurgence that led to unprecedented Rugby World Cup success.
In his last game in charge, Steve Hansen wants his players to use another painful defeat as inspiration for a new dynasty for New Zealand’s rugby team.
A 19-7 semifinal loss to England last weekend has the two-time defending champions playing Wales on the next-to-last day of the World Cup — for third place.
“It is different, you can’t sidestep that. There’s a lot of pain involved and a lot of hurt, but you’ve just got to make that work for you,” Hansen said. The quarterfinal loss to France in 2007 “has earned us two World Cups because it’s created a real pain that’s personal and deep inside you.
“When you have adversity in sport, it makes you tougher.”
Hansen and Wayne Smith were assistants to Graham Henry 12 years ago when the All Blacks were upset in Cardiff. The squad decamped almost immediately.
“Last time we didn’t get another opportunity to play a game,” Hansen said. “We had to wait four years to get it out of our system.”
And get it out of their systems they did.
The coaching staff was retained, and it rebuilt the team into the one that won the World Cup on home soil in 2011, ending a 24-year title drought. Hansen took over and led the All Blacks to victory in 2015 in England, when the home team was unceremoniously bundled out in the pool stage. The All Blacks were the first back-to-back Rugby World Cup winners.
Hansen used his team selection Wednesday to highlight how championship teams recover from being, in his words, rocked. With that in mind, he picked a combination to take on Wales that was balanced between giving deserving veterans Kieran Read, Ben Smith and Sonny Bill Williams a send-off in the All
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