Hansen: This is big­ger than Li­ons clash

Coventry Telegraph - - SPORT - Steve Hansen

ALL Black head coach Steve Hansen fears play­ing reg­u­lar Test matches against Eng­land would di­min­ish the spec­ta­cle and have a neg­a­tive im­pact on play­ers.

The All Blacks face Eng­land for the first time in four years to­day at a sold-out Twick­en­ham.

Hansen has fur­ther raised ex­pec­ta­tions for the high­lyan­tic­i­pated clash by declar­ing it big­ger than last year’s British and Ir­ish Li­ons tour.

While the 59-year-old would be open to the idea of more reg­u­lar meet­ings be­tween the two coun­tries, he has con­cerns about the knock-on ef­fect.

“As long as it doesn’t cre­ate more log­jams in the cal­en­dar,” replied Hansen, when asked if he would like to face Eng­land more of­ten. “The prob­lem with the game at the mo­ment is there is not enough break be­tween the last game and the next one, and play­ers are suf­fer­ing be­cause of it. The old adage of less is more is prob­a­bly a good thing. Would we be so ex­cited about play­ing Eng­land if we were play­ing twice a year, ev­ery year? Maybe not.”

New Zealand’s last ma­jor match at Twick­en­ham re­sulted in them lift­ing the World Cup tro­phy with vic­tory over Aus­tralia in 2015.

The All Blacks’ most re­cent meet­ing with Eng­land came the pre­vi­ous year, when they se­cured a nar­row 24-21 win.

To­day’s Hil­lary Shield match will be the first time Hansen has taken on an Eng­land team coached by Ed­die Jones.

Hansen feels the op­po­si­tion have im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly since Aus­tralian Jones re­placed Stu­art Lan­caster as head coach in Novem­ber 2015.

“They won 18 Tests in a row com­ing out of a World Cup that was deemed to be a dis­as­ter. You couldn’t de­scribe it any other way,” said Hansen. “I think Stu did a lot of work to set some plat­forms and then Ed­die came in and re­ally took it to an­other level.”

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