Rugby: Steve Hansen urges All Blacks to forget 2013
New Zealand became the first international team in the professional era to go unbeaten as they defeated France (four times), Australia (three), South Africa (twice), Argentina (twice), Japan, England and Ireland over the course of 14 Tests in 2013.
But having described England, who they face in a three-Test series, as the most improved side in international rugby during the past 18 months, Hansen said it was vital the All Blacks started afresh – beginning with Saturday’s opener at Eden Park.
“If we hang on to last year we’ll get thumped,” the All Blacks coach said. “It was a good year but the reality is we could have been beaten two or three times.
“There are teams out there who are well and truly capable of beating us. It’s about us making sure we’ve done all the homework that we need to do.
“The other reality is this England side can do some things better than we can. We need to make sure that we improve in those areas so we at least get on similar ground to them.”
Preparation has been the buzzword around the All Blacks this week.
They are generally slow starters in June when it takes an outing or two to shake off the rust and for the players to re-establish combinations and patterns after making the switch from Super Rugby.
With England shorn of key players for the series opener because of the scheduling clash with the Aviva Premiership final, it would be easy for the All Blacks to fall into the trap of just thinking they have to turn up to Eden Park ” a venue where they have not lost in 20 years ” and victory will follow.
But the New Zealanders rarely get sucked into such false thinking and Hansen has hammered home the message that preparation is key.
“If we make it bone deep we give ourselves an opportunity to turn up on Saturday in a mental and physical state that allows us to play well and we’re not a bad team when we turn up like that,” he said.
“If we get beaten and we do that, then that’s life.”
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