NRL 2020: Bulldogs sign former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen
NRL 2020: Bulldogs sign former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen

Bulldogs land All Blacks legend in stunning coup

Legendary All Blacks mentor Steve Hansen is joining the Canterbury Bulldogs in a huge coup for new coach Trent Barrett in his Belmore rebuild.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal Hansen has agreed to come on board with the title of high-performance consultant to work alongside Barrett and his coaching staff, the leadership group and even senior management at the Bulldogs.

"Everyone from the boardroom to the playing group, all our leaders and all our coaches will benefit from having Steve at the club," Barrett said.

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After leaving the Manly Sea Eagles in 2018, Barrett was able to spend time with Hansen in New Zealand with the All Blacks to get first-hand experience of their culture and coaching methods.

"We've stayed in touch and we've been talking about this role for a few months," Barrett said, "This is really big for us.

"When I got the job at Canterbury I just thought he'd be ideal and he was keen to help out and try something new. The aura that he carries and all the experience he's had…

Steve Hansen will join Canterbury as a consultant.
Steve Hansen will join Canterbury as a consultant.

"It's fantastic for us from a leadership position and to help make sure we get off on the right foot in areas around culture.

"It's well known that the All Blacks are the benchmark in that regard."

Barrett says Hansen will offer advice in all areas of football operations and management.

"It will be a broad role and it's important for me to have someone of his stature to lean on," he said.

"There are not too many things he hasn't seen or done in sport.

"He's knockabout but there's no bullshit. Everything's straight down the line."


The hours he spends at Belmore will be determined by COVID and the travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand.

There are hopes he will be hands on from the start of next season.

"There's a lot of things we can do over zoom," Barrett said, "Ideally when he have our camps and when we're doing our preparation it would be beneficial for him to be here with us.

"That's something we'll work out."

Hansen, 61, coached the All Blacks for seven years and is also seen as a potential magnate for new players.

Not just with NRL players but from his knowledge of junior pathways in both codes in New Zealand.

"We absolutely see Steve as a great attraction for players outside of our club," said chief executive Andrew Hill.

"To have someone like Steve involved will help recruit more quality to our club, no question about it.

"Who wouldn't want to learn from Steve?"


Hansen's signing could also raise questions about the possibility of the great Sonny Bill Williams having a farewell season at the Bulldogs, depending on the future of Toronto Wolfpack.

Hansen recently said SBW was a "freak of nature".

"Sonny would be the best athlete I've ever coached from a pure athlete sense," Hansen said.

The Bulldogs have always been open minded about bringing in expertise from rugby union at the highest levels.

Earlier this year there was even talk of recruiting super coach Eddie Jones as Hill and senior figures at Belmore discussed ways to lift the Bulldogs into a competitive outfit.

The club has finished no higher than 11th in the last four years.

To get Hansen is one of their greatest coups in the modern era.

"He was responsible for being a major driving force behind one of the most successful sporting brands in history," Hill said, "his knowledge and thoughts on areas such as leadership, high performance, preparation and team ethic will be invaluable to our club as we look to create the right environment for success, on and off the field."



Originally published as Bulldogs land All Blacks legend in stunning coup