Hansen fires shot at 'old-fashioned' England
November 3, 2010
Steve Hansen has promised a fired-up display from the All Blacks © Getty Images
New Zealand assistant coach Steve Hansen has promised that his side will meet England head on at Twickenham on Saturday.
England are set to roll out an 'old-fashioned' ground and pound game-plan against the free-flowing All Blacks, with the home side's defence coach Mike Ford insisting that their rivals' Tri-Nations thrillers did not represent 'proper Test rugby'.
Hansen prickled at the comments and promised that they would match fire with fire up front without deviating from their traditional game. He also warned the England management that they would not return to the heights of 2003 with such a narrow mindset.
"I think England would be happy to go from set piece to set piece to set piece, so they can take us on in that area and see if they can beat us," he said. "We know from experience year after year that when we play England they will be very physical up front and we've got to match that and get on top of it.
"If you allow yourself to be intimidated you go through life meekly and don't achieve the things you want to achieve. Rugby is no different. If people are going to stand up and try to intimidate you, you will say 'I am not going to be'. I think that is huge.
"That is the type of game they want to play and we can't back away from it - but that doesn't stop us from playing our own style of rugby. We can mix and match our game. You don't become the number one side in the world if you don't have more than one bullet in the gun."
Hansen, a former coach of Wales, dismissed Ford's assertion that the Tri-Nations lacked in intensity, pointing out the differing styles of the north and south while also highlighting the fact that the planet's best sides call the southern hemisphere's top competition home.
"Having been involved at Test level in both hemispheres I just don't relate to people saying there is no intensity in the Tri Nations," he said. "You have the three best sides in the world. When you are playing South Africa in Soweto and you have to come from behind to win the game, there is plenty of intensity in that.
"The difference in the two hemispheres is the pace of the game. In the southern hemisphere they want to play a faster, moving style of game. In the northern hemisphere - with the exception of France and Wales over a long period of time - the game is more about in-your-face, physical contact.
"It doesn't make it a better game or a worse game from my point of view. I think Saturday's game will be a mixture of raw physicality and ball movement because that is what the two sides want. We can say: 'Okay, we will play your part of the game, but you have to play our part of the game too' - keeping the ball alive, moving it around the park and making their team run around more than they would like. Once you work out who can do that best, then you can get a winner."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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