Cape Town – All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has rated Saturday’s clash with England as bigger than last year’s series against the British and Irish Lions.
With that series having been drawn 1-1, there is an extra incentive for the All Blacks to make up for what was viewed as a major disappointment and vice versa for the Lions.
“I think (the England match is) even bigger actually. I think the Lions tour has made it bigger because we weren’t successful,” Hansen told Stuff.
“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.
“There’s 80,000 people (in the stadium), it’s all over the papers, everyone’s talking about it, you can’t get a ticket.
“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.”
It is the first time the All Blacks will be returning to Twickenham since their 2015 World Cup final victory. And despite the world champions starting as heavy favourites, Hansen is guarding against complacency.
“I don’t know who’s writing them off, it would be foolish to do that,” he said. “But 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 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.”
Elliot Daly, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Jonny May, 10
Owen Farrell (co-captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Brad
Shields, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dylan Hartley
(co-captain), 1 Ben Moon
16 Jamie George, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20
Courtney Lawes, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Jack Nowell
Damian McKenzie, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11
Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7
Ardie Savea, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks,
2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
16 Dane Coles, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Matt
Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Ryan Crotty