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Rugby Union: Hansen: I'mputting emotions on hold until we beat Italy.

Byline: MATT LLOYD

STEVE HANSEN admits Saturday's Six Nations farewell against Italy will be an''emotional'' climax to his two-year reign in charge of Wales.

The hard-nosedKiwi has already booked his flight back to New Zealand on April 20 to join fellow former Wales coach Graham Henry at the All Blacks.

But before that he has one last game left -his 31st -in charge of Wales as he looks to end his stay in the Valleys on a high with victory over Italy in Cardiff.

``The game is about the team,not me,but I guess there will be mixed emotions on Saturday,''he admitted.

``I'm sure I'll be sad about that.I've formed close bonds with a lot of people,but especially the players.

``Leaving them will be tough. I couldn't have asked for a better group of players to work with.We've grown very tight,and they've almost become my family while I've been here.

``It will probably only hit me that it was my last game in charge when I sit back and relax once all the dust settles.

``But I must put all that behind me and treat this like any Test match to make sure the team prepares to perform on the day.''

Hansen is unlikely to be given a hero's send- off by the expected 70,000 crowd at the Millennium Stadium given he has the worst record of any Wales coach with just 10 wins in 30 games.

But on the back of some improved Six Nations performances, Hansen added: ``I'm satisfied I have achieved my goal of leaving the team in a better state than when I took over and hopefully in a position to one day become one of the best sides in the world.

``But one of the downfalls of coaching is that the media and 95pc of the population judge you solely on results.

``After I go,if Wales start getting results I will be well satisfied the systems we have put in place are working.

``I think more people understand what we've been trying to do.''

CAPTION(S):

Steve Hansen (right)finishes as Wales coach on Saturday
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 24, 2004
Words:358
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