WHITNEY HANSEN – CONTINUING A PROUD FAMILY TRADITION

What a year it’s been for Black Ferns and Matatu assistant rugby coach Whitney Hansen and there’s plenty more to come.

AN EYE FOR DEVELOPING TALENT - Whitney Hansen

Being part of the World championship-winning Black Ferns coaching staff under head coach Wayne Smith was followed by another significant title, the Super Rugby Aupiki women’s crown, like the World Cup final which was won 34-31, the Super Aupiki grand final also went right down to the wire before the southern franchise club prevailed 33-31, storming back from 0-19 down in as many minutes at the start.

A school teacher by profession as well as a rugby coach, Whitney is continuing an outstanding coaching tradition in her family. Dad Sir Steve Hansen won two World Cup men’s crowns with the All Blacks, one as assistant coach the other as head coach as well as two Super rugby titles with the Crusaders as assistant coach. He also enjoyed a successful stint coaching Wales.

THE "A" TEAM -Whitney Hansen, Wes Clarke and Wayne Smith.

Her late grandad Des Hansen was a long time successful coach of the Marist senior rugby team in Christchurch and it was probably inevitable, once Whitney finished playing rugby that she would move into coaching.

Being part of the Black Ferns World Cup winning coaching group was a major highlight and she especially enjoyed being mentored by not only Wayne Smith but also legendary scrum coach Mike Cron.

Black Ferns players and coaches did not have much time to celebrate before turning their attentions to Super Rugby Aupiki and in a closely fought four team competition, Matatu, the South Island club, caused the biggest upset in the competition’s two year history by downing the previously unbeaten Chiefs Manawa side in that thrilling final.

Staying focussed on the task at hand and not watching the scoreboard was a key to Matatu’s victory and Whitney said they always believed that if they stuck to the game plan they could win.

MATATU CELEBRATE

The Black Ferns World Cup win has shot several members of that team to stardom and they are very quickly becoming as recognisable as the men’s All Blacks players. Stars of the Matatu side included fullback Renee Holmes, an out and out superstar who contributed 23 points in that grand final triumph including two tries.

The talented mid-field of Grace Brooker and Amy du Plessis were stars and up front, Amy Rule, Alana Bremner, Cindy Belles from Canada, Kendra Reynolds and Lucy Jenkins all shone and will be vying for places in the Black Ferns side this year.

YOU CAN DO IT !

There is a fair gap between the Super Rugby Aupki final and the Black Ferns next test against Australia in Brisbane on June 29 but already prospective squad members are preparing and not sitting idol.

The Black Ferns, now under head coach Allan Bunting, play two tests against Australia for the Laurie O’Reilly Cup and as part of the Pacific Four tournament which includes tests against Canada and the USA in July.

The World Cup winning side captured the hearts of New Zealand sports fans and Whitney said the opportunity was there for the game to grow much further once there is a longer competition where players can give so much more of their time to the game instead of like most players at present, having to hold down other jobs as well.

Listen to my interview with the World champion coach in which Whitney Hansen gives her views on women’s rugby, some background on her rise to fame and where she hopes the game is heading.

Interview & Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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