Coronavirus: One-off Lions-New Zealand Test in 2021 backed by Hansen

By Sports Desk April 19, 2020

Steve Hansen has backed Warren Gatland's idea to stage a "decider" between the British and Irish Lions and New Zealand in 2021.

Gatland steered the Lions to a drawn series against Hansen's All Blacks in 2017 and will lead the team on a tour of South Africa next year.

The former Wales boss suggested a one-off match could be staged ahead of Tests against the Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks, in order to raise funds after the coronavirus pandemic.

While Hansen, who stepped down as All Blacks boss after the World Cup, stated such a game would not settle the 2017 series once and for all due to different personnel being involved, he believes it could be important to the sport's future.

"Well, it won't be a decider because it won't be the same people involved. But what he's really saying is let's have this game to try and help make some money for the game because the game is in trouble," Hansen told Wales Online.

"You have got one rugby nation, in the United States, who have gone bankrupt, we've got Australia on the brink, we know England have got a financial crisis, everybody will have because you are not getting paid the TV rights and those are what makes the game go round.

"The game is in financial crisis. People are struggling. So I think anything that allows us to create some income to support the game is important."

Hansen is now the director of rugby at Toyota Verblitz in Japan's Top League, which last month had its season cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The former All Blacks coach believes the suspension of rugby provides an opportunity to make sweeping changes for the good of the game.

"We have an opportunity now to start with a blank page because you have got everybody putting self-interest to the side," said Hansen.

"They know they could be gone if they don't do the right thing. So it's a great opportunity to bring everybody together, north, south, individual countries and do what it is right for the game. It's been a long time coming because it's been needed for quite some time.

"There has been a lot of self-interest and if we don't do the right thing we could lose the game and that would be a tragedy."

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