England match even bigger than Lions tour, says All Blacks coach Hansen

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Steve Hansen believes New Zealand’s clash with England is bigger than last year’s series against the British and Irish Lions.

Hansen’s All Blacks are set to play at Twickenham for the first time since their World Cup final victory over Australia in 2015.

The sold-out Test match follows the 2017 Lions tour when New Zealand were held to a draw on home soil.

Head coach Hansen is keen to make amends for that frustration on Saturday.

“I think (the England match is) even bigger actually. I think the Lions tour has made it bigger because we weren’t successful,” said the 59-year-old.

“In only drawing the series, that wasn’t successful to us.

“That’s made this week have a sharper edge to it, which is good.

“You’ve got to be reasonably stupid if you can’t work out this is going to be big.

New Zealand
New Zealand drew last year’s series with the British and Irish Lions (David Davies/PA)

“You’d have to be on holiday, I reckon, if you didn’t work out that this is going to be big. And we haven’t got anybody on holiday this week.”

The All Blacks have not played against England since a 24-21 win in London in November 2014.

They are heavy favourites for victory at the weekend but Hansen shrugged off talk of his team being under pressure to deliver.

New Zealand
New Zealand won the World Cup on their last visit to Twickenham (Mike Egerton/PA)

“There’s already pressure on us, the one constant thing about being in the All Blacks is you’re under pressure because you’re expected to win every Test match you play and not only win it, win it really, really well.

“Once you come to realise that then life becomes a little easier.

“And it does at times give you an advantage because when other teams get put under pressure of having to win big games, they haven’t experienced that as much as maybe we have.”

Hansen has selected his strongest available team for the Hillary Shield match.

Prop Joe Moody suffered a cut eye in training, so Karl Tu’inukuafe takes his place in the front row of a side captained by number eight Kieran Read and directed by Beauden Barrett at fly-half.

Jack Goodhue, who has recovered from glandular fever, will partner Sonny Bill Williams at centre.

There will be particular attention on Williams following his costly red card in the second Lions Test, which helped turn the series in the away team’s favour.

Hansen insists the player is not dwelling on that incident.

“He doesn’t have any demons and he hasn’t got any devils or anything running around in his head,” said Hansen.

“But if you were asking me was he disappointed, yes he was obviously.

“He did a shoulder-charge that hit someone in the chops and he got red-carded and rightly so.”

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