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Hansen looking for wins off-field as well in Japan

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Lynn McConnell     31 Jan 2018     Getty Images

While in Japan to announce the All Blacks would contest their third Bledisloe Cup game of the year on October 27 at the venue for next year's Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama. 

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The All Blacks will then play Japan at Ajinomoto Stadium a week later.

Hansen told local media on Wednesday that he was keen for the All Blacks to enjoy the opportunity they would have to play in the first World Cup staged outside one of the top countries in the game.

Hansen would also be mindful of striking a chord with locals knowing that England coach Eddie Jones, whose side is keen to make a winning impression in Japan, has the advantage of having been the Japan team's coach at the last World Cup where they had made a huge impact when beating South Africa in pool play.

"Clearly we want to come and win it, but we also want to enjoy our time here in Japan and get to understand the Japanese people and spend some time with them.

"So it's very much about playing some good rugby, some winning rugby, and enjoying the culture of the country," he said.
The All Blacks, who are no strangers to Japan were wanting 'to play some rugby in front of people who we know enjoy rugby', he said.

New Zealand are the only country to have won the World Cup three times, and the first country to defend their title when winning in 2011 and repeating in 2015.

Hansen explained that the All Blacks have been doing some study of the Japanese language in readiness for their visit later this year, and for the World Cup next year.

"We're busy at home studying to see if we can learn some of it. For some it's easy, for others it's difficult," he said.

New Zealand, as defending champions, will open the World Cup tournament against traditional rival South Africa in Yokohama, the venue of the November 2 final, on September 21 next year. They then play in Oita on October 2 against an as yet undecided opponent while on October 6 they will play an African qualifier, also still to be decided while their final pool game will be against Italy in Toyota on October 12.