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Great teams do great things - Hansen

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Lynn McConnell     07 Oct 2016     Getty Images

They were aware of their opportunity to claim the tier one nations' world record for most Test wins in succession and had talked about it. Should they win in Durban they would be equal with the record of 17 wins.

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"It's like everything else, if you try to avoid it, it creates more pressure so if you do talk about it and embrace it, it then becomes a challenge. Whether you are successful or not is irrelevant – that's the outcome but it is certainly something that motivates this group.

"They want to be seen as a team that are a great All Blacks side and to be a great All Blacks side you have to do things that other teams haven't done," he said.

Hansen explained that the motivation to keep setting standards came from the team having a united vision about what they wanted to do and where they wanted to be as a team.

"And it's trying to live that vision as much as we can day in and day out and the challenge when you are successful I guess is to stay being successful and the only way you can do that is to continue to work hard," he said.
The fact they weren't playing on the high veldt felt different. The side were used to playing at altitude but the difference they felt was from a travel point of view because they had recovered much quicker at sea level.

They were looking forward to the challenge the game represented.

"We really love playing South Africa. We've got a good relationship with them off the park – that's been built over a number of years. We've got a lot of respect for them. They're a team that we know are capable of beating us and that in itself brings your backside from the back of the seat to the front of it and having to play after what is massive travel just to get here is a challenge in itself.

"Every other time we've played over the last four years the Championship has been at stake. The game that was pretty much close to the best I've been part of certainly, the Boks needed four tries and we needed to win and it was a sensational game and I think there's only been a couple of points in most of them and we don't expect anything else.

"They're a proud nation, they've come off a win and they'll be confident and at home so I'm just looking forward to it," Hansen said.

Flanker Matt Todd's selection was good reward for a player who had worked hard and he was also helping the team by giving Ardie Savea a break, Hansen said. It wasn't a case of him being gifted a jersey, he had earned the right to pull it on and he was sure he would play well.

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It was similar too for Waisake Naholo, although he had been a member of the squad from the outset.

"We've got a firm policy that we've got a strong side and you only grow depth by using it and we've got a lot of confidence in him too," he said.

South Africa had gone back to a more traditional style to beat Australia last weekend with the personnel changes they had made and they would expect more kicking and a reversion to more lineout mauling.

"They are a side that can hurt you with the ball in hand too. We've just got to go out and make sure that we get really excited about what we're facing and bring a physicality and an accuracy in the things that we do so we're putting them under pressure as much as they're putting us."

In the wake of Aaron Smith's suspension the side had two scenarios if they lost a halfback before the Test. They could bring a player over very late from New Zealand, but they could also play Damian McKenzie at halfback, he trained there on Thursday and if they lost both halfbacks, as had occurred in the past, Lima Sopoaga would cover the role.

Halfback was one position the side covered a lot when working out their 'what-ifs' in games. And having someone in the group who could jump in if they lost both of them in a game.