Ferguson, Mourinho guides for Cheika, Wallabies: Hansen

by Sam Phillips

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has pointed to Sir Alex Ferguson's success at Manchester United as reason to stick by the Wallabies and more specifically coach Michael Cheika.

Ferguson was famously very close to being sacked after three years in charge of the English powerhouse before going onto be the most successful manager in the sport's history.

While the conversation about Cheika's future has all but subsided after the remarkable win over Salta in Argentina poor losses against any of New Zealand, Wales, England and Italy in the coming weeks could certainly reignite the debate.

But Hansen shot to the defence of his contemporary after naming his team in Tokyo on Thursday.

"It’s not for me to say what’s right for Australian rugby but what I do know is that continuity has been proven over and over and over again to be a pretty good recipe," he said.

Steve Hansen has defended Michael Cheika. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"You look at Sir Alex Ferguson, he just about got sacked and went on to do the job for 30 years. He wasn’t too bad.

"Mourinho is probably in a similar boat at the moment, they’re going decide what they’re going to do with him because they’re not going as well as they’d like. 

"I just think sometimes we pull the trigger too quickly on the coach and sometimes I guess it is warranted but most of the time I don’t think it is. 

"I think it’s a good thing they’ve given the players a platform that’s secure because they know the coach is secure.

"Once that happens people can get on and do what they have to do."

One thing that is secure is the Bledisloe.

For the 18th straight year the coveted Cup will stay in New Zealand but that doesn't mean the Kiwis are void of motivation.

"Well, they're Australia so you don't have to do too much," Hansen said.

"It's the same for the Aussies - they don't have to do too much.

"If you look through history, we've done a lot of things together and there's a close bond with the Anzacs.

"That same closeness also breeds a fierce competitive challenge and we looking forward to playing them and they're the same.

"If you go through our history, Australia is the one team who has caused us the most damage.

"They've beaten us more than most other teams, so there's got to be respect.

"I think you become arrogant if you stop respecting the opposition."

There is also the carrot of a clean sweep on offer.

The world champions were in this exact position last year having cruised through the Sydney Bledisloe before scraping home in the Dunedin thriller.

They were unable to pull off a similar escape in Brisbane and that is front of mind in Japan.

"What we want to do is we want to be better every time we play and we didn't do it right last year and this time we want to go out and perform and have a performance that we're proud of," Hansen said.

"It's Australia and whether you're 24 or 104, everyone knows what it's like between the two countries.

"Whether we're playing marbles, soccer or tiddly winks, it doesn't matter, we want to beat each other.

"That's healthy and, as long as you keep it healthy it's a good thing."

But while Hansen had kind words aplenty handy he couldn't let a Bledisloe week before firing one shot.

He doesn't believe the teams are particularly even matched and made as much clear on Thursday.

"I don't know if this particular group is close close but there's certainly a respect there for both teams," he said.

"It becomes difficult if one team's having a bit more success than the other.

"But there's definitely a mark of respect from our guys. We love playing them and we know they love playing us.

"We love beating them and they love beating us.

"So that's a pretty common trend.

"As I said, it's a one-off game and the winner's going to take all and whoever does win it gets to have an easier summer than the blokes who don't."

The Wallabies face the All Blacks in Yokohama on Saturday, kicking off at 5pm AEDT, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and RUGBY.com.au radio.