Kiwi coach ex­pects no sur­prises in Lions’ ap­proach

New Straits Times - - Sport -

us­ing a tac­tic, dubbed “Warrenball“, which in­volves send­ing big ball car­ri­ers crash­ing across the gain­line to draw in de­fend­ers and then look­ing to ex­ploit gaps out wide.

In a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view with Bri­tain’s Times news­pa­per yes­ter­day, Hansen said he was work­ing on the as­sump­tion that the 2017 Lions would be us­ing the same tac­tics.

“We as­sume War­ren’s not go­ing to have an epiphany and change the way he plays,” he said.

“But we’re only as­sum­ing that, we’re not be­liev­ing it un­til we see them play and, with a tour, you do get to see the op­po­si­tion play a bit, so we’ll be able to con­firm one or two things prior to that first Test.”

Hansen used the in­ter­view to lob a few grenades, in­clud­ing a de­fence of All Blacks fly­half Beau­den Bar­rett af­ter Gat­land had sug­gested place-kick­ing could be an area of the game that gave an edge to the tourists.

“I don’t think we’ve lost a Test match through his goal­kick­ing,” Hansen said of the World Player of the Year.

“Peo­ple are pan­ick­ing be­cause he’s not goal­kick­ing for the Hur­ri­canes. That was ini­tially be­cause he had a side strain and it was hurt­ing when he was goal­kick­ing.

“I know he can men­tally cope with the task of goal­kick­ing in the arena. As long as he is do­ing his train­ing and go­ing through his skill ac­qui­si­tion of goal­kick­ing through the week, then it doesn’t worry me if he is goal­kick­ing on Saturday or not.

“There’s no doubt the Lions have got great goal­kick­ers. Now, pres­sure is a funny thing and I know our guys have lived un­der that pres­sure for a long time.

“And while they might not have the stats to match, I be­lieve and have faith they’ll kick the ones that mat­ter.”

Hansen also took aim at Gat­land’s com­ments that he was em­bar­rassed to be a New Zealan­der when he wit­nessed the “ar­ro­gance” of the fans and coun­try’s me­dia when the All Blacks beat Aus­tralia last year to win a record 18th straight Test.

“Our fans are pretty well ed­u­cated and even though Gats has called them ar­ro­gant, I don’t think they are ar­ro­gant, I think they are well in­formed and have high ex­pec­ta­tions of us,” he said.

“And they know that this Lions squad is one of the best to have been picked for a long, long time.”

“The Lions have got a lot of ex­pec­ta­tion of their own — 30,000 peo­ple are com­ing out to sup­port them and they are com­ing out in ex­pec­ta­tion of their team play­ing re­ally well and win­ning the se­ries.”

The Lions ar­rive i n New Zealand to­day with the first of three Tests tak­ing place in Auck­land on June 24.

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