Say what? Perhaps it was all too easy in the afterglow of an Eden Park bloodbath, the Wallabies cut down to size and then some after their spirited win in Perth a week earlier.
Or maybe Hansen thought enough was enough after his infamous ‘Mickey Mouse’ quip stretched an already tenuous relationship between the camps, or their leaders at least.
There were certainly hints of a renewed respect between the playing groups after the battles of the past two weeks.
Australia, after three years of mostly poor Bledisloe Cup performances played their best rugby in years in Perth and, notwithstanding the imbalance caused by Scott Barrett’s red card, had the measure of New Zealand in attitude.
Retribution was swift in the return fixture. As halfback Aaron Smith said after the game: “The emotion came out in every tackle, the boys were flying in – well I wasn’t but the big boys were. We weren’t going to die wondering.”
Smith confirmed what many knew was happening last week. Every New Zealand player in that squad of 23 spent the week stewing in juices of humiliation and embarrassment.
The Wallabies came in, they were really good sports … It was good to nurture that relationship.
“It was a long Sunday, it was a long week to be honest,” Smith said.
“You just remember how you felt on Saturday night and before you went to sleep every night you thought ‘this is not going to happen again’. I know that drove me all week to do all the little things, get good sleep, drink lots of water, stretch.
“Also there were other drivers too, I really wanted to put a performance in for guys leaving, [captain] Kieran Read (who retires from Test rugby after the World Cup) means a lot to me and I wanted to make sure we saw him as skipper lifting the Bledisloe. I’m very happy we did that.”
Openside breakaway Sam Cane confirmed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited the home dressing rooms as well, but said she demurred from the opportunity to sip from the Bledisloe Cup.
“I didn’t see her drink out of [it],” Cane said. “[There were] plenty of germs being shared really, I think someone who was sick said ‘I’d better not have a slurp’ so had a fake photo sipping out of it.
“The Wallabies came in, they were really good sports, we had a 20-minute yarn probably, with the majority of their boys. It was good to nurture that relationship.”
Maturity from both sides, finally, after a few years of regrettable shenanigans.
Georgina Robinson is the chief rugby reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.