Steve Hansen says that New Zealand’s character has been tested following their World Cup defeat against England.
The All Blacks’ World Cup campaign will end on Friday – 24 hours earlier than many expected – when they face Wales in the bronze medal match.
That result sent New Zealand to Tokyo, rather than contesting a third successive World Cup final in Yokohama on Saturday.
“The most important thing we can do this week is play at the highest standard we can play, to coach to the highest standard you can coach or being the best manager you can be,” Hansen said.
“Doing that, we show ourselves and our team-mates and our country that we’ve got some character.
“It’s easy to have character when you are winning all the time, because it’s not tested. Our character has been tested this week.
“The most important thing we can do now is show that if your character is tested, you can stand up to it.
“That’s the greatest success we can take out of this tournament. It’s the greatest success we can show young people in New Zealand who want to be aspiring All Blacks or aspiring anything. You’ve got to have character.”
Hansen has made made seven changes to the team beaten by semi-final opponents England, with Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Dane Coles, Shannon Frizell and Sam Cane all starting.
“It’s about resetting the button and making sure that we go and have a performance that not only we can be proud of, but every New Zealander around the world and every fan of the All Blacks,” added Hansen, who steps down after Friday’s game.
“If we win the game, then we will take that. If not, we will go away and work a bit harder.
“Success creates a lot of perceptions, but it’s not always true.
“There is a perception out there that I am a great coach, but that’s only because I’ve won a lot of games, but there are not that many people who know if I’m a great coach or not because they haven’t been in our environment.
“I will have plenty of time after Friday night to reflect on all sorts of stuff.
“I am going somewhere else after this (to work in Japan), which we all know, and I will have plenty of time to reflect then with a cold beer in my hand and a hot towel.”