By Lucien Libert
BEPPU, Japan (Reuters) – New Zealand coach Steve Hansen was made honorary chief of police of the Japanese city of Beppu for the day on Thursday as a sign of respect for both him and his team.
Hansen, who was decorated with a scarf and cap by Beppu’s regular police chief Yufumi Sato, said: “Very humbling to be recognised as the chief of police of Beppu for the day.
“I don’t have a clue how I’m going to run the city,” he joked. “I won’t be able to do it as well as my colleague, the real chief.”
The All Blacks have moved their training base to Beppu, a city situated on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu known for its natural hot baths.
Hansen is no stranger to the police force, having served for six years in the New Zealand police.
He said serving in the police had been his vocation and he found similarities to his current job as head coach.
“I think the big similarity is you’re doing things under pressure.
“You’re doing things as a team, you can’t be an individual on the police force and you can’t be an individual in a game of rugby.”
After the short ceremony, attended by a horde of Japanese media, Hansen went on patrol across the city, visiting the tourist information centre of Beppu train station and heading down to a commercial centre.
New Zealand, who beat rivals South Africa to open their World Cup defence, are in Beppu preparing for their next Pool B clash against Canada in nearby Oita on Oct. 2.
(Reporting by Lucien Libert; writing by Jack Tarrant; editing by Tony Lawrence)