Alarm bells should be ringing for Eddie Jones.

If the often outspoken English coach wasn't already aware how highly-motivated the All Blacks are to dominate at Twickenham this weekend, he certainly should be now after Steve Hansen raised the stakes significantly by suggesting this match is more important than last year's British and Irish Lions tour.

"I think it's even bigger than that actually," Hansen said prior to the All Blacks' main training session in London. "The Lions tour has made it bigger because we weren't successful in only drawing the series. That, to us, wasn't successful. That's made this week have a sharper edge to it which is good."

Such comments offer a glimpse inside the mentality of the All Blacks this week.
In-front of 80,000, on one of world rugby's biggest, grandest stages, they want to be ruthless. They want to make a statement.


No matter what they do, there is a feeling within the All Blacks the Lions result is continually rubbed in their face.

Defining instances, such as Sonny Bill Williams red card in the second test, and the highly controversial ending to the third at Eden Park, have seemingly faded from memory for some.

Many in the north prefer to only remember the final 1-1-1 result.

Often it is suggested, in fact, the Lions should have won the series. Never mind the All Blacks blew three tries in the opening 20 minutes of the decider.

"Sonny doesn't have any demons and he's got no devils running around in his head," Hansen said, shaking his head. "Yes he was disappointed, obviously. He did a shoulder charge which hit someone in the chops and got red carded and rightly so. You just want consistency in that don't you?"

The All Blacks celebrating their championship win. Photo /
The All Blacks celebrating their championship win. Photo /

It's fair to say, then, the All Blacks have a point to prove over the next two weeks as they meet England and Ireland, both of whom feature many familiar faces from the Lions tour.

While results here can't change the only major blemish of Hansen's seven-year reign, they can alter perceptions, and also go a long way to reinforcing where the All Blacks sit in the overall pecking order.

This week the All Blacks management and players regularly touched on the differences in style between the southern and northern hemispheres, almost taunting England to deviate from their script.


If the All Blacks can win playing attractive, running rugby this weekend, while England stick to their maul, kick, defend approach, even better.

And while England's leading Lions - Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Ben Te'o, Elliot Daly, Jamie George – may feel they have inside oil to drawn on, the All Blacks don't appear worried.

"We did a lot of looking back at the time," Hansen said. "That year you can look at it and say the Lions series was a gift because there were a lot of things we didn't do well. We haven't wasted much time looking back at it over the last few weeks, no.

"The Lions series hasn't been great for English rugby in that a lot of players have come back and gone straight back into club footy and there's been a lot of injuries. It's hard to get momentum when you're changing your squad all the time.

"They beat South Africa the other day so you'd have to say they're on the up."

Even Beauden Barrett, who endured a difficult time against the Lions' rush defence, brushed off concerns he may again be stifled.

"We've learnt a bit from that and we think the approach may be similar," Barrett said. "No doubt England would have got pieces from that series and will look to bring those into this test match. It's exciting. We're playing England, not the Lions, we have to remember that so we're up for it."

Hansen doesn't say these things by chance. This caculated message is a clear tactic to dial up pressure on Jones and England. Because when it comes to pressure, Hansen feels there is no better team accustomed to dealing with its many faces.

Walk towards it, as the All Blacks say.

"I don't know who is writing them off you'd be foolish to do that. Does it put pressure on us? No. There's already pressure on us. The one constant thing about being in the All Blacks is you're under pressure," Hansen said.

"You're expected to win every test match you play and win it really well. Once you come to realise that life becomes a little easier.

"It does, at times, give you an advantage because when other teams are put under pressure of having to win big games they haven't experienced that as much as maybe we have."