All Blacks pre­pare for gen­uine test

Western Morning News - - Rugby Union - BY ED EL­LIOT

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen be­lieves his side’s Test match against Eng­land to­mor­row is big­ger than last year’s se­ries against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons.

Hansen’s All Blacks are set to play at Twick­en­ham for the first time since their Rugby World Cup fi­nal vic­tory over Aus­tralia in 2015.

The sold-out Test match fol­lows the 2017 Li­ons tour, when New Zealand were held to a draw on home soil.

Hansen is keen to make amends for that frus­tra­tion this week­end. “I think it [the Eng­land match] is even big­ger, ac­tu­ally. I think the Li­ons tour has made it big­ger be­cause we weren’t suc­cess­ful,” the 59-year-old said.

“In only draw­ing the se­ries, that wasn’t suc­cess­ful to us.

“That’s made this week have a sharper edge to it, which is good.

“You’ve got to be rea­son­ably stupid if you can’t work out this is go­ing to be big,” he added

“There will be 80,000 peo­ple in the sta­dium, it’s all over the pa­pers, ev­ery­one’s talk­ing about it, you can’t get a ticket.

“You’d have to be on hol­i­day, I reckon, if you didn’t work out that this is go­ing to be big, and we haven’t got any­body on hol­i­day this week.”

The All Blacks have not played against Eng­land since a 24-21 win in Lon­don in Novem­ber, 2014.

They are heavy favourites for vic­tory this week­end but Hansen shrugged off talk of his team be­ing un­der pres­sure to de­liver.

“I don’t know who’s writ­ing them off, it would be fool­ish to do that,” he said. “But does it put pres­sure on us? No.

“There’s al­ready pres­sure on us, the one con­stant thing about be­ing in the All Blacks is you’re un­der pres­sure be­cause you’re ex­pected to win ev­ery Test match you play and not only win it, win it re­ally, re­ally well.

“Once you come to re­alise that, then life be­comes a lit­tle eas­ier – and it does at times give you an ad­van­tage be­cause when, other teams get put un­der pres­sure of hav­ing to win big games, they haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced that as much as maybe we have.”

Hansen has se­lected his strong­est avail­able team for to­mor­row’s Hil­lary Shield match.

Prop Joe Moody suf­fered a cut eye in train­ing, so Karl Tu’inukuafe takes his place in the front row in a New Zealand side cap­tained by num­ber eight Kieran Read and di­rected by Beau­den Bar­rett at fly-half.

Jack Good­hue, who has re­cov­ered from glan­du­lar fever, will part­ner Sonny Bill Wil­liams at cen­tre.

There will be par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion on Wil­liams fol­low­ing his costly red card in the sec­ond Test against the Li­ons, which helped turn the se­ries in the away team’s favour.

Hansen in­sists the ex­pe­ri­enced player is not dwelling on that in­ci­dent.

“He doesn’t have any de­mons and he hasn’t got any devils or any­thing run­ning around in his head,” the All Blacks’ boss added. “But, if you were ask­ing me was he dis­ap­pointed, yes, he was, ob­vi­ously.

“He did a shoul­der charge that hit some­one in the chops and he got red­carded and rightly so.”

Karl Tu’inukuafe trains with the All Blacks in Ted­ding­ton yes­ter­dayPHIL WAL­TER/GETTY IM­AGES

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