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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007, 06:31 GMT 07:31 UK
Mistake to axe Jenkins - Hansen
Steve Hansen
Steve Hansen says the WRU were wrong to sack Gareth Jenkins
Former Wales rugby coach Steve Hansen says Gareth Jenkins should not have been sacked.

Speaking to the BBC's Sport Wales programme the New Zealand assistant coach said it was "probably wrong" to get rid of Jenkins.

Jenkins was sacked on Sunday after Wales crashed out of the Rugby World Cup following a 34-38 loss to Fiji.

Hansen is back in Wales ahead of the All Blacks quarter-final against France at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Hansen, who coached Wales between 2002 and 2004, says there has to be a fundamental change in the structure of the game in Wales if the national team is ever going to reach the pinnacle of world rugby.

When asked if it was the wrong decision to get rid of Jenkins after just 16 months in the job, he said: "Probably. It probably was and I'll probably cop it for saying it!

"I think they (Wales) have to sit down as a nation of people who care about the game and have a think tank to decide what needs fixing? What is the priority of the things that need fixing? And then get on and fix them.

I don't think it's about your coach, I don't think it's about your players I just think you haven't got the foundations right

Steve Hansen

"If they want to have a game where they see their team in the top four or five in the world then that is what needs to happen."

But he doesn't think the blame for Wales' poor performance can be laid at the door of the front-line personnel.

He said: "I don't think it's about your coach, I don't think it's about your players I just think you haven't got the foundations right.

"Unless you get the strategies right underneath to support your national game then you're never going to win."

But despite lamenting the structure of Welsh rugby Hansen says he would recommend the coach's job to any potential candidate.

He said: "If someone asked for my advice the first thing I would say is how does it suit your family?

"If they say fine, then I would say go for it because the time I spent here was great. I loved the job and I loved coaching Wales.

"It was a huge challenge and at times a very frustrating one but 95 % of the time it was so rewarding that you are never going to replace those times."

But at the moment his focus is clearly on the All Blacks and their campaign to break what has been somewhat of a World Cup jinx.

Dismissing speculation that he is in line to take over from All Black head (and fellow former Wales) coach Graham Henry if New Zealand do secure the title, Hansen says he is just looking to the immediate future.

606: DEBATE

"It would be fair to say that my first priority is the team that I am coaching at the moment and all my energy goes into making it a success on Saturday," he said.

But he did not rule out a return to Wales at some point saying "If the opportunity came one day, and it was the right thing for me and my family to do, yes I would love to come back here.

"But it would have to be the right thing for the family."

Watch the full interview on Sport Wales.

Sport Wales is on BBC 2W, Thursday at 22:00 BST.

2W is available on Freeview and digital/cable satellite.

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