Twickenham just like Ellis Park: Steve Hansen
November 14, 2013
Liam Messam and the All Blacks survived a fierce challenge at Ellis Park © Getty Images
New Zealand face a challenge the equal of South Africa in Johannesburg when they play England at Twickenham on Saturday, Steve Hansen says having put heat on his forwards to rise to the occasion as they did when the All Blacks defeated the Springboks 38-27 at Ellis Park six weeks ago.
"We've done very well against probably the most physical pack in world rugby in South Africa," the All Blacks coach said of the performance recognised as the best of his side's 12 victorious Tests this year. "The English pack will press us again. We've got to display a high level of physicality and intensity from numbers one to 23, but particularly numbers one to eight, because that's where they'll be coming for a start."
South Africa were confident at Ellis Park having enjoyed a strong 12 months, and the same can be said of England - whose shock 38-21 defeat of New Zealand last December kick-started a run of nine wins from 10 Tests. England have won their past six Tests at Twickenham, and Hansen accepts the venue can be daunting for visitors.
"Jo'burg is a big plus because we went there and we were successful, so that gives you confidence in those types of places," he said. "We know if we play well, we're a pretty good side."
Hansen says world No.3 England are more of an unknown quantity than No.2 South Africa, whose players they encounter multiple times every year at Test and Super Rugby level. England Tests are less frequent, making it difficult to truly gauge their merit.
"You see them playing really well but you're still not sure if they're at that [Springboks] level," Hansen said. "They've got a self-belief because of last year and we've got a desire that's pretty high because of last year. Then it comes down to mentally on the day, how you can cope with it."
Steve Hansen can't quite get a handle on England's latest performances © Getty Images
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