All Black Liam Messam thought Steve Hansen 'hated' him

Former All Black Liam Messam thought coach Steve Hansen had it in for him in his early days in the national team.

The 36-year-old, who earned 43 test caps over eight years and won a World Cup in 2015, even thought Hansen “hated him”.

Messam particularly copped plenty of stick from Hansen, who was then an assistant coach under Graham Henry, in 2009, after the then 25-year-old started at No 8 and had a match to forget during a shock 27-22 loss against France in Dunedin.

“A lot of things didn't go well for me – I fell off a few tackles, I probably didn't put in enough back-to-back efforts – and I can remember it so clearly," Messam wrote in a column for The XV.

"I got ripped a new one by the coaches afterwards. I remember Steve used to be really, really tough on me, but I understand why he was now. He was just trying to help me be a better player.

"At the time, I was like, 'this guy hates me. This guy is always picking on me.' But I eventually understood it. He was the forwards coach then, and he was just trying to help get me to the right level and figure out what I needed to do to be an All Black."

Messam, who played in Japan and France after the 2015 World Cup, returned to New Zealand this year and played for Waikato in the Mitre 10 Cup.

He made 179 appearances for the Chiefs between 2006 and 2018, winning two titles.

For what it’s worth, Messam has picked the All Blacks to bounce back from consecutive losses and beat Argentina in Newcastle on Saturday night in their final test of the year.

“The All Blacks will hear a little bit of what's been thrown around about them but it's their loved ones that are really taking the brunt of the chatter – and the wider public probably don't realise that,” Messam wrote for The XV.

"But I've got faith we'll bounce back. Losses are the best learning opportunities and I think this young All Blacks team will have taken plenty of lessons out of the past few weeks."