Hansen: We are all about shared leadership

New Zealand boss Steve Hansen has hailed the durability of “special player” Dan Carter as he prepares to line up in his first Rugby World Cup final.

Hansen: We are all about shared leadership

Mercurial fly-half Carter will be part of an All Blacks team unchanged from the one that edged out semi-final opponents South Africa five days ago.

The 33-year-old is set to exit Test rugby after tomorrow’s Twickenham showdown against Australia, bringing down the curtain on a 112-cap international career before joining Ronan O’Gara’s Racing 92 in Paris.

And All Blacks head coach Hansen believes Carter deserves huge praise for bouncing back from serious injury blows during the last few years.

“He had an horrific run of injuries over a couple of seasons that took away his confidence,” Hansen said. “Up until then he was relatively injury-free. If you are around long enough you are going to have a bit of adversity, and he’s had two seasons of it prior to this year.

“It’s the mark of the guy how he’s come through that. A lot of people might have said ’enough’s enough, I will chuck it in’ but he stuck with it, and the big thing this season is he has had the ability to play game after game after game. It doesn’t matter who you are, confidence is a massive thing in sport.” Hansen confirmed prop Wyatt Crockett, who missed the semi-final because of injury, hurt himself in training. He would have been on the bench but that spot has now gone to Ben Franks.

Tomorrow’s clash culminates a four-year journey after he stepped up from assistant to head coach following New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup triumph that was inspired by his predecessor Graham Henry.

“By nature, I probably am better-suited to being the person sitting at the top of the tree, rather than the one halfway up it,” Hansen added. “When you’re at the top of the tree, you get to drive the bus the way you want it driven. There are certain things you’re happy to negotiate with and some things not to. We run this team as a pretty open forum where everyone gets to say what they think, and that’s massively important. Shared leadership in that way allows us to make better decisions. I can sit here and say I’m the boss, but there are a lot of bosses and my job is to facilitate an environment where it’s all about playing well at the weekend.

“It (being New Zealand coach) is a feeling of humbleness and being grateful to have an opportunity, the great honour of being able to lead the team. It comes with a lot of responsibility, you don’t want to let it down. Once you get over the daunting impact of it – you are expected to win all the time, and there is a lot of pressure that comes with being involved – once you realise that is going to be there anyway, it’s a great place to be.”

Australia have made one change for tomorrow’s final after Scott Sio completed his recovery from an elbow injury.

Sio is restored at loosehead prop, with James Slipper dropping down to the bench for the climax to England 2015 at Twickenham.

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