‘Saturday is even bigger than the Lions’: All Blacks boss Steve Hansen is preparing for an almighty showdown against England at Twickenham
- England welcome the All Blacks to Twickenham on Saturday in a huge clash
- New Zealand in 2017 were involved in one of the all-time great Lions series
- Steve Hansen believes Saturday’s showdown will be bigger than that series
- The All Blacks boss also goaded Kiwi convert Brad Shields ahead of Saturday
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen expects Saturday’s showdown against England to be an even bigger occasion than the 2017 Lions tour.
Nine of England’s match-day squad were involved in the three-Test series which ended in a famous draw.
Senior Red Rose players compiled a dossier of tactical notes from their sole victory in Wellington – and Hansen still has a sour taste from the occasion.
Steve Hansen expects Saturday’s showdown against England to be an bigger than the Lions
The Lions and the All Blacks in 2017 produced one of the greatest series in recent memory
‘I think Saturday’s even bigger than the Lions,’ said Hansen.
‘The Lions tour has made it bigger because we weren’t successful in only drawing the series. To us, that wasn’t successful. That’s given this week a sharper edge, which is good.
‘Everyone understands how big this is. There’s been a real buzz from the moment we got to name the northern hemisphere tour squad.
‘We understand our history and who we are really well – it is talked about a lot when you first come in – and you’ve got to be reasonably stupid if you can’t work out this is going to be big.
‘There’s going to be 80,000 people, it’s all over the papers, everyone’s talking about it and you can’t get a ticket.
‘You’d have to be on holiday to not work out this is going to be big… And we ain’t got anyone on holiday this week.’
Hansen is still smarting from only drawing the series and is out to claim a win at Twickenham
‘Everyone understands how big this is,’ the All Blacks boss said of this weekend’s encounter
The world champions are widely tipped to inflict revenge of England’s nine Lions, with even the most conservative pundits writing off the chances of an English upset.
Hansen, however, branded those doom-mongers as ‘foolish’.
The Kiwi poured praise onto England’s kicking game – and expects an ’emotional’ performance from Kiwi convert Brad Shields.
‘Shieldsy is going to be facing a team he always wanted to play for but unfortunately for him we didn’t pick him,’ said Hansen.
‘Some of his great mates are in that team. He will find it emotional. He wouldn’t be human if he didn’t but he’s a quality man and good ruby player and he will deal with it in his own way but it will tug at his heart strings. You wouldn’t be human if it didn’t.’
Hansen also started mind games with Kiwi convert Brad Shields by saying he will be emotional coming up against the team he always wanted to play for but never got the opportunity
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