Steve Hansen: We let down All Blacks history in Chicago
‘If we prepare well and our attitude is good then we are going to be hard to beat’
Steve Hansen has said his side let down All Blacks history in Chicago. Photograph: Inpho/James Crombie
Coach Steve Hansen said that his team let down All Blacks history when they lost to Ireland in Chicago two weeks ago for the first time in over 100 years.
Hansen also insisted with a straight face that Ireland were the favourites to win coming in to the rematch in Dublin this weekend.
“I just go back to Chicago. It was 40 to 29. So therefore they (Ireland) got to be the favourites,” said Hansen.
“They won the last game. So we have to be underdogs. It’s irrelevant whether it’s strange or one that we are used to. That’s just a fact. You can’t avoid facts. They are what they are. Obviously we have to make sure we played better than we did last time.
“Ireland will go out and do what they want to do. One win mightn’t be enough in 111 years, 110 years whatever it was. They’ll be keen for another one (win) so it should be a cracking game.”
With the anniversary of the death of legend Jonah Lomu taking place on November 18th, the New Zealand team have a ready made source of motivation and inspiration.
Lomu, one of the great figures in world and New Zealand rugby, died a year ago on Friday after suffering a heart attack caused by kidney disease, which he struggled with throughout his career.
“One of the things that is important to us is our legacy, which is a fancy word for history,” said Hansen.
“And he (Lomu) is a big part of that and the boys will be aware of that and they’ll talk about it amongst themselves and they’ll talk about it as a team. We let our history down in Chicago and didn’t perform to the level we expect.
“If you lose games and you play well then you get beaten by the better team. If you lose and don’t play well then it becomes very frustrating. We know we didn’t play anywhere near as we know we could play and we know we have to play to that very high level if we want to beat Ireland because they are a good side.”
The New Zealand coach also pointed to the mistakes and errors made by his side in Soldier Field. Uncharacteristically the unforced error count went into double figures.
He added that New Zealand played into Ireland’s hands tactically through their indiscipline. Handing Joe Schmidt’s side easy penalties played into the Irish thinking of kicking to corners.
“If everyone does their core roles, whether it’s a lineout in the breakdown or in defence that should fix our performance and take it to a far better level than it was,” added Hansen.
“Whether that’s good enough again we’ll see again on Saturday. When you make 16 unforced errors out of 21, that’s something you’ve got to fix. 12 out of 12 penalties were avoidable. You expect to get a couple but 12 out of 12, you’re on the money on an off day if you’re giving them 12 out of 12.
“They’re going to kick into the corners, driving mauls. They (Ireland) scored two tries off that. You are giving them what they want so you have got to avoid that.”
Hansen welcomed Broadie Retallick back into the starting side. The powerful lock teams up again with Sam Whitelock in a powerful secondrow combination rated the best partnership in the world.
Both were missing from the Chicago meeting and should beef up New Zealand’s competitive edge and aggression in the loose as well as at lineouts.
Retallick came on for almost 40 minutes in New Zealand’s rout of Italy last week in Rome and suffered no reaction to the concussion that had kept him on the sidelines.
“The 40 minutes was…we got him on pretty quick because we know he missed a couple of games,” said Hansen of Retallick.
“So, the big thing is he got the confidence to go and play after being knocked out. Concussion takes the confidence away. But after the game he was pretty happy so I’m happy. He’s been around the block. He knows what he needs to do.”
But Hansen also struck a cautious note at the team hotel in Dublin’s Castleknock. Seven years ago, the All Blacks lost back to back matches against the same opposition. It is not something he has forgotten.
“Yeah South Africa 2009,” quipped the coach. “That’s what tells us it can happen. We don’t have any god given right to win every game of rugby. But what we do know is that if we prepare well and our attitude is good then we are going to be hard to beat.”