All Blacks: Hansen acknowledges psychological significance of victory

By Kris Shannon

Richie McCaw is hugged by centre Ryan Crotty after their dominant win at Waikato Stadium seals a clean sweep in the series. Photo / Alan Gibson
Richie McCaw is hugged by centre Ryan Crotty after their dominant win at Waikato Stadium seals a clean sweep in the series. Photo / Alan Gibson

After a week in which the All Blacks ruled out the possibility, Steve Hansen was rather pleased his side had attained a psychological edge over England.

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Much of the focus leading up to Saturday night's victory in Hamilton revolved around the potential ramifications a clean sweep in the series could have on future editions of this burgeoning rivalry.

The All Blacks, to a man, denied the suggestion that the mid-year meeting could have an impact on encounters to come, particularly any clash at next year's World Cup in England. The coaches and players explained how their dominance over France before the 2007 tournament counted for nothing; how they were far from flawless in the months before the 2011 edition.

But somewhere between the All Blacks' dominant win at Waikato Stadium and the morning-after debrief at the team hotel, that viewpoint had changed.

Perhaps it was the nature of the triumph perhaps he and his team were foxing all along but Hansen yesterday acknowledged the significance of the victory.

"I think [Saturday] night hurt them," he said. "I think psychologically it hurt them, particularly that first half there was really only one side in it those first 40 minutes.

"It's always good to have a psychological advantage but the key thing for us was that we played well that's what we were looking for and we made progress from test one through to test three.

"It was satisfying and something we desperately wanted."

It remains to be seen whether that progress can be carried into the Rugby Championship, let alone the All Blacks' next match against England on the end-of-year tour.

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Hansen now faces the frustration of losing his players back to Super Rugby but he insists it won't be back to square one when the squad gathers in August for a trip to Sydney to tackle the Wallabies.

"We'll have to restart again that's the problem with having a wee break. But I'm very confident that we've set a good foundation and we'll come together and we've got a bit of preparation time this time.

"It's not straight out of Super Rugby into it we've got about 10 or 12 days before we have the test match, which is a little bit more reasonable."

The next six weeks will be filled with mixed emotions for the All Blacks coaches, hoping to see their charges perform but also warily watching for the inevitable injuries.

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Hansen admitted he was in store for some nervous nights in front of the television, particularly considering the number of decisive New Zealand derbies which were to follow.

"But that's rugby," he said.

"We can bank on losing two or three. We lost three in the last one [Sam Cane, Luke Romano, Charles Piutau] and maybe that's the three for the year, but I'm sure there's going to be some more.

"But their bad luck is someone else's opportunity. We just have to make sure we select the right people to take that opportunity."

- NZ Herald

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