In one of the most unlikely coaching developments in recent years, Hansen is helping the Wallabies in an advisory role as they prepare for a warm-up match against France in Paris on Sunday.
Hansen, who led the All Blacks to victory over Australia in the 2015 World Cup final, has agreed to share some of his insights before the Wallabies kick off their campaign against Georgia on September 9.
Wallabies officials confirmed to this masthead that Hansen is in camp with the Wallabies before this weekend’s match against France. Hansen is expected to be with Australia for about a week.
Hansen, who has a long-standing friendship with Jones, is not being paid by Rugby Australia for the week.
Coaches from other teams and codes have been invited into the Wallabies set-up at various times during the year. The Wallabies say Hansen does not have an official role this week but is giving advice to Jones when necessary.
New Zealanders have been stunned by the news that Hansen would even consider helping the Wallabies.
“What? Actually? In [a] camp kind of set-up?,” said Coles when told by Kiwi reporters that Hansen was with the Wallabies in France. “Shag, what are you up to?
“That hurts a little bit to be fair. I’m actually gobsmacked. I know he’s quite tight with Eddie. I know they’re good mates ... but he’s a bit of an icon in the All Blacks set up. I’m a bit speechless. A bit disappointing but we can’t do much about that.
“Hopefully he doesn’t tell Eddie what our secrets are. I think he’ll be respectful.”
The 64-year-old has cast a watchful eye over Wallabies training as the team prepares for their first hit-out in France. Hansen has introduced himself to Wallabies players and staff and is providing feedback where possible to Jones.
Sources said Hansen has not been wearing official Wallabies attire but is expected to attend Sunday’s match at Stade de France. Whether he will sit in the Australian coaching box or watches from the stands is unclear.
Hansen has spoken to All Blacks coach Ian Foster about his short-term role with the Wallabies and says it is nothing more than a favour for Jones.
“They’re looking good actually. They’re a good young team. They’re working hard,” Hansen told Newstalk Radio. “I’d like to put everyone’s mind at rest that I haven’t joined the Wallabies for the Rugby World Cup. I’m only here for about three or four days at the request of Eddie, a good mate of mind, just to give him some feedback on what he’s doing as opposed to anything else. Rugby is bigger than all of us, so [I’m] happy to do that.”
Four years ago, Hansen and Jones squared off in the World Cup semi-final between New Zealand and England in Japan.
In one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, England beat New Zealand 19-7 to progress to the final, where they lost 32-12 to South Africa.
Earlier this year, Jones and Hansen coached against each other in a Barbarians and World XV fixture at Twickenham. The pair have a great relationship, having first coached against each other in 1997 when in charge of the Brumbies and Crusaders respectively in Super Rugby.
Hansen was the coach of Wales during the 2003 World Cup, when Jones led the Wallabies to the final against England.
New Zealand rugby fans could never have imagined that their World Cup-winning coach would ever help their old rivals.
Hansen is close friends with Foster, who is in charge of the All Blacks at the World Cup. He will be replaced by Scott Robertson from next year.
In an interview with this masthead in May, Hansen said he had great respect for Jones.
“Eddie is a rugby man through and through, he loves the game. He’s quirky ... and he has a massive work ethic,” Hansen said.
“But underneath it all he cares about the game and the people who are involved in it. He is a good analyst of the game.
“He has the ability to bring a group together pretty quickly. I just enjoy his company. I like talking rugby with him and he has a good sense of humour as well. He likes a beer and a punt, and so do I.”
After the World Cup semi-final in 2019, Jones sang Hansen’s praises.
“He’s a great coach. He’s a great rugby man,” Jones said. “He will go down as one of the greatest All Blacks coaches. He always looks to see what’s best for the game.”
Jones will name his Wallabies team on Friday for the match against France. Australia last played France in November under coach Dave Rennie and suffered a heartbreaking 30-29 loss in Paris.