All Blacks well aware of Irish threat

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Coach Steve Hansen said: "It's exciting, we're right where we want to be."

 

While the All Blacks had not lost to Ireland before 2016 in Chicago, they had played some memorable games and their last game, in November last year, had been a titanic struggle which had seen Ireland take their second win. There was a lot of respect between the two sides.

 

"Most teams that we play get up 10 percent better than they normally do and they're no different. The big difference here [in Japan] is that it is do-or-die for both teams.

 

"Both are in good nick, fresh, excited and I can only speak on behalf of ourselves, we're really looking forward to the challenge," he said.

 

Hansen said he didn't believe having a week off as a result of their abandoned game with Italy was a bad thing.

"It's allowed us to work really hard Friday, GPS numbers were equivalent or just above what a normal Test match would be so we don't feel like we've lost any opportunity to get ourselves where we need to be.

 

"The exciting part is we had Saturday locked up in the hotel because we couldn't do anything because of the storm and got a whole day's rest," he said.

 

Ireland were set in how they played, like the All Blacks. They played to their strengths – halfback Conor Murray did a lot of kicking and they used first five-eighths Johnny Sexton to drive them around the park. They had big forwards to carry and he asked why they would want to change a game that had been very successful for them.

 

"Ireland have bought out the best in us for a long, long time. I don't know how many games we've played. We enjoy playing them and that hasn't changed because they've beaten us a couple of times," he said.

 

But Hansen warned about looking to the past for a measure of how the quarterfinal might go.

 

"A lot of people are getting caught up in the past, it's about what is going to happen on Saturday that is going to matter. Anything that has happened prior to that is irrelevant," he said.

"We know we've got a talented group of people and our job as coaches and management people is to create an environment so that talent can express itself," he said.

 

Hansen said it didn't matter what had happened before, being in the quarterfinals meant you were in control of your own destiny.

 

In passing on the side's respects to the families of Japanese people who had suffered loss of life and upheaval as a result of the typhoon, Hansen said having been through a natural disaster he understood how it affected them.

 

He also said the efforts of the Japan rugby team in qualifying for the quarterfinals was such that he was quite happy they were on the other side of the draw. The way they were playing was a good way to play rugby.

 

They deserved to be regarded as a Tier One nation given they had made the quarterfinals, and they had done that by playing quality rugby.

 

"They've given the game a boost, they've given Japan rugby a boost and they've given the Japan people a boost after what was a pretty horrific weekend," he said.

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