Steve Hansen's nerves will be at an all-time high on Saturday.

And not just because the All Blacks will be preparing to face the Irish in a do-or-die Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash.

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Hansen - a long-time horse racing fan, owner and even breeder - will be glued to the TV in Japan when Nature Strip, a thoroughbred the All Blacks coach part-owns, runs in one of the richest races in the world.

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The Everest, a A$14million sprint race, is held each year at Randwick in Sydney and will take place on Saturday a few hours prior to kick-off.

Confirming he'll be keeping a close eye on the race, Hansen said: "I hope so, it's a $14million race".

All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen after Nature Strip won race eight at the Galaxy. Photo / Getty
All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen after Nature Strip won race eight at the Galaxy. Photo / Getty

"But that's out of my control too. I'll leave it in the hands of the trainer [Chris Waller]. He's a good one."

When asked which would be more important, the All Blacks or Nature Strip, Hansen replied wryly: "The one you have some control over.

"I guess you could say my second horse will be the All Blacks on Saturday, although I'm not too sure the boys will like being called horses. There's not a lot I can do. I can't ride him [Nature Strip] or carry him."

Kiwi-born trainer Waller, renowned as one of the leading trainers in the world, will team up with jockey Tim Clark, who will be at the helm of Nature Strip on Saturday.

A proud All Blacks supporter too, Waller told the Sydney Morning Herald he was straight on the phone to Hansen last month after Nature Strip won the Moir Stakes.

Chris Waller with Nature Strip. Photo / Getty
Chris Waller with Nature Strip. Photo / Getty

"How's my horse?" Hansen asked.


"How's my rugby team?" Waller fired back before a quick catch-up left them both confident their champions were in safe hands.

Nature Strip won the A$1million race in Melbourne last start but after drawing the outside starting position is a 20-1 chance for the Everest.

The favourite for The Everest is Acardia Queen, to be ridden by New Zealand-born jockey James McDonald.

Meanwhile, Hansen sprung a few surprises this afternoon when naming his line-up to play Ireland.

As expected, Brodie Retallick will start despite only playing 30 minutes at the World Cup so far, while Jack Goodhue got the nod ahead of Ryan Crotty and Sonny Bill Williams despite a similar lack of game time.

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