Intensity of World Cup opener is what rugby, and coaching, is all about

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He told his final pre-game press conference that the game couldn't come around quick enough.

 

"The sooner we can get out there and get into it…I can't wait," he said.

 

"This is a massive opportunity and to be able to play an opponent who is as good as we're playing, you couldn't ask for any more.

 

"This is what you get involved at this level for. I love coaching for the art of coaching and for the fact that you help athletes get better when you get up to the top echelon, like a national team, these are the moments you live for.

 

"It's called a Test for a reason; it tests your resolve, the players' resolve, your coaching resolve, the management, everybody in the group is tested," he said.

 

Speaking to the All Blacks selection, he said, Sonny Bill Williams was coming off the bench because he hadn't played much in the last six weeks and it would give the All Blacks something different. He had different skill sets to other players, had shown what he could do at the last World Cup and they didn't mind him coming off the bench.

 

Centre Jack Goodhue's lack of game time was also behind his not being included and it was felt more time wouldn't do him any harm. Squad replacement Shannon Frizell was named in the reserves as Matt Todd had a shoulder injury and wasn't considered.

 

The choice of George Bridge and Sevu Reece had been the subject of much discussion with Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett the other considerations, but the Crusaders pair had put their hands up and were going well, he said.

 

"These two young fellows have hit the track running and they are playing extremely well. Unfortunately for Rieko, he's had a bit of a flat patch, which happens in everybody's career, and his job now is to wait for an opportunity.

 

"He was going to get one against Tonga but unfortunately he had a calf niggle and we didn't play him so he's now going to have to wait until later in the tournament," he said.

 

In the midfield, second five-eighths Ryan Crotty had played well since coming back from injury and had all the qualities they wanted in the role while centre Anton Lienert-Brown had been the form player through Super Rugby and had played well in every game for the All Blacks.

 

Hansen said the side didn't have a No.1 starting XV. They had a group of players they would use depending on who they were playing and what the opposition were.

 

That had been the thinking behind their squad selection for the World Cup to allow them to do different things against different sides.

 

Hansen said he didn't agree with South African coach Rassie Erasmus' tactic of putting external pressure on the referees by talking about the luck the All Blacks had as No.1 team in the world had when close calls were made in their favour by referees.

 

They were under enough pressure already and didn't need anymore from coaches.

 

Referees did the very best they could do and all teams, including the All Blacks, had suffered when they didn't get things right.

 

"It's a big game, we just need to let the referee get on with it and prepare well for it himself," he said.

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