COOL ALL BLACKS
Hansen plays down England World Cup threat
“We know South Africa very well,” added Hansen, looking ahead to New Zealand’s first ever group clash with the Springboks, who memorably beat the All Blacks in an emotional 1995 final.
“It’s going to be one of the games of the tournament.”
The All Blacks will be chasing a hat-trick of World Cup titles in Japan to underline their recent dominance of the sport.
“It’s going to be interesting,” smiled Hansen. “Everyone is saying that Pool C is the pool of death.
“But England will be like us — just looking forward to getting here. They’re one of our rivals, along with South Africa, Australia and France.”
On recent form England appear best placed to provide New Zealand’s biggest threat despite their calamitous 2015 World Cup, when they became the first host nation to fail to escape the pool stages.
The English have added steel under coach Eddie Jones, equalling New Zealand’s worldrecord 18 straight Test wins before Ireland prevented them from completing back-to-back Grand Slams in March.
“History shows that you need to win seven games to win the World Cup,” said Jones.
“To get through to the final we’re going to have to be bulletproof.” While England face further bruising tests against either the United States or Canada, and Fiji or Samoa, New Zealand should encounter far less resistance before the knockout phase.
The All Blacks could rack up huge scores against the likes of Namibia and potentially Uruguay or Kenya.
“Obviously with heat and humidity it’s something we need to plan for,” said Hansen, identifying one possible cause for concern.
“Will we play any games in Japan between now and then? We will have to wait and see. But it wouldn’t be a silly idea.” AFP
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen arrives with the William Webb Ellis Cup at the World Cup 2019 pool draw in Kyoto on Wednesday.