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Rughy Steve Hansen: Michael Cheika comments not personal

Ahead of New Zealand facing Australia in the Rugby Championship, Steven Hansen has clarified remarks made about Michael Cheika.

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New Zealand coach Steve Hansen insists comments he made about Australia counterpart Michael Cheika were not intended to be personal.

Following England's 3-0 whitewash of the Wallabies Down Under last month, Hansen expressed his surprise that the confrontational Cheika had not entered into a war of words with opposite number Eddie Jones.

Cheika took exception, describing Hansen's remarks as "shallow", and said "it's easy to kick a man when he's down".

The All Blacks are due to face Australia in this year's Rugby Championship opener in Sydney on August 20, and on Tuesday Hansen defended his comments.

"It wasn't directed at Michael, I just thought that Eddie had dominated him a wee bit in the media and he took it quite personal," he told Radio Sport.

"It wasn't meant to be personal."

Hansen also revealed that Sonny Bill-Williams will come straight back into the All Blacks fold after his commitments with the Sevens side at the Rio Olympics have come to an end.

"As long as he's injury-free we'll name him in the Rugby Championship team, then give him whatever time he needs, whether it's one Test or two Tests," he said. 

"He won't be available for the first one then we'll see how he's travelling. He'll play some time during that competition."

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