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Don't over-do England/NZ Tests: Hansen

10 November 2018

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen reckons this weekend's Test between England and New Zealand at Twickenham is bigger than last year's British and Irish Lions series.

The All Blacks celebrating their championship win.

This result has sent them into the New Zealand clash with more belief even if a big improvement is required to threaten the world champions.

"As long as it doesn't create more logjams in the calendar", replied Hansen, when asked if he would like to face England more often.

You've just got to execute your gameplan, he said.

"That day is probably the best feeling of my rugby career so far and hopefully we can repeat that", said George, who was the first choice hooker throughout the series.

Hansen said players new to the set-up "feel it straight away" and admitted the All Blacks' world can be an "overwhelming place", but stressed the key is to talk about it and help players cope with it in their own way.

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 anxious. We haven't wasted much time looking back at it over the last few weeks, no.

The sport's governing body World Rugby has instructed teams to respect the performance, in which the New Zealand players bulge their eyes and poke out their tongues to unsettle their opponents. It's hard to get momentum when you're changing your squad all the time.

'If we're good enough, then we beat them.

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

"We've been thinking about this game for a little while". Had this match occurred a year ago we'd be talking it up as a contest between the best two teams in the world, instead though that will happen next weekend in Dublin, as England under Eddie Jones maybe haven't quite fallen off a cliff, but at least dangled over the precipice following the peaks of 2016.

Hansen doesn't say these things by chance.

While Hansen would be open to the idea of more regular meetings between the teams, he has concerns about the knock-on effect.

"We understand who we are and our history, but you've got to be reasonably stupid if you can't work out this is going to be big", he adds.

"The one constant thing about being in the All Blacks is that you're under pressure because you're expected to win every Test you play and win it really, really well".

So you'd have to say they have improved, but coming with that is pressure. Then you realise "we can be in this", but by then it's too late.

When Jones' comments were put to Read at New Zealand's team hotel in London on Friday, he replied: "We do the Haka as a challenge but it is more about us connecting as a team".

Don't over-do England/NZ Tests: Hansen