Hansen’s verdict on RTS All Blacks bid, and the biggest obstacles to a global comp

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New Zealand’s World Cup winning coach Steve Hansen has no doubt rugby league convert Roger Tuivasa-Sheck can seize an All Blacks jersey despite having yet to run out in a Super Rugby game.

The former Roosters and Warriors NRL star has had his debut for the Blues delayed by the postponement of their match against Moana Pacific, but Hansen believes the buzz around RTS is there for good reason.

“He’s a superb athlete and he’s not coming in 100 percent cold having played for New Zealand schoolboys rugby,” Hansen told NZ radio Newstalk ZB.

“So he’s played the game before, he has an understanding of it so he’s returning to rugby and he has every chance n the world because of his natural talent, because he understands the game albeit at a lower level.

“He’s got a great mentor in Leon MacDonald there – he’s doing a fantastic job – so I think he’s got a real chance.

“If he plays well why wouldn’t [Ian Foster] and his team be excited about having him.

“He’s an athlete and a half.”

Earlier this week RTS revealed watching an All Blacks vs. Lions Test at Eden Park in 2017 lit the fire in him that eventually led to his code switch.

“The stage that they were playing on, I kind of sat there and looked around and said, ‘Wow, this is the stage, playing at Eden Park, full stadium, these are the stages’, and because I’m a competitor, this is where I wanted a challenge, on the big stages like this,” RTS told the Breakdown The Pod host Jeff Wilson.

“A lot of times, that played on the back of my mind, ‘Should I have a crack at this or not?’, but, now that I’m here, I’m really excited about this new journey that I’m in and I’m ready to get stuck in.”

Tuivasa-Sheck had his first game of union since he was a schoolboy in a trial against the Hurricanes two weeks ago, starting at inside centre.

“I loved it. I really enjoyed it. I’d been hanging out, waiting for a game, especially as I came over quite early from the Warriors to get a game with the Auckland NPC [team], but that fell short,” he said.

“Then we went into another pre-season with the Blues, and then now, getting a game, I’m excited. ‘Here we go, we’re in the pouring rain at Rugby League Park in Wellington’. It was exciting. I was just happy to play.”

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Meanwhile Hansen, who is the architect of a proposed 12s competition was unsure how that might be affected by news that Six Nations and Rugby Championship officials are due to meet to discuss an overhaul of the international calendar.

There are plans to crown a global champion every two years.

“If the Six Nations want it it will happen because they run everything through World Rugby. All the votes are up so it is that way,” Hansen said.

But Hansen said the proposal was essentially one extra match – a final to crown the champs – and did nothing to solve wider issues in scheduling and player welfare.

“All it does is … put another gloss on what’s there but it doesn’t fix the problem of the global season,” Hansen said.

“We need a global season so we can have a European Cup and Super Rugby champion play off and we need a Six Nations and Rugby Championship playoff every year.

“What they can’t do is have it loaded one way. What I understand is they propose to play the final at the end of November, which is advantage northern hemisphere because all of the southern hemisphere sides are coming to the end of their season.

“Until they get a global season you won’t get a true reflection.”

He said that would involve someone having to give ground, and tipped it wouldn’t be the Europeans.

“Six Nations [organisers] are never going to change when they play the Six Nations – does it mean we have to play the Rugby Championship first up and then follow it with Super Rugby? It’s worthy of a discussion.”

He said a global season was possible.

“If we start thinking about our players, what’s important in the calendar stays and what’s not so important goes.

“There are a lot of games, particularly up north – they’ve followed the soccer model and have more competitions going on in one season than you can throw a stick at.

“We’re better off saying ‘what months do we want to play Test rugby, what months do we want to play club rugby, what else can we put in there, is the 12s a worthy option to spice up the game’.

“If there’s a will and a want they’ll get it done. If they don’t want to, they won’t.

“The only people who suffer when they don’t want to do that is the players.

“They’re asking the players to do a hell of a lot and there’s an expectation they play in all the teams they’re contracted for and they can only go around for so long and then they’re going to break. We see it all the time, good athletes hit the wall, physically mentally, and we don’t want that.”

He said the 12s idea was still “burning away in the background” but relies on World Rugby deciding it’s something they see value in.

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