Preparations completed, All Blacks fly out to Japan

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Consecutive World Cups in 2011 and 2015, involving many in the management team meant the All Blacks enjoyed a solid core of experience but the important thing was to use that experience to achieve what they wanted to achieve while keeping driving themselves to be better.

 

"If we do that we prepare well, we have good mental fortitude and use the talent we have then we've got a chance but sport is something that is not a given," he said, calling on the example of Serena Williams losing the US Open final in two sets.

 

"Sport's not fair and neither's life, so you've got to get on with it," he said.

 

While the team wrapped up their pre-tournament games with their thumping 92-7 win over Tonga, it had still served a purpose for them.

 

"We would have liked it to be a little tougher but we organised a game so we could get some time as a unit in a match-like situation and we got all of that, and I thought the boys played particularly well.

 

"They were sharp, they were clear in what they were trying to do and some of the structures we have been working on they did well, so we can now get on the plane and really focus in on what is going to be a mighty first game," he said.

 

Hansen said he wasn't upset that the side's toughest game in pool play, against South Africa, was first up. That had been the case in 2015 against Argentina and Hansen said he liked that because it allowed New Zealand to then work their way through the tournament the way they wanted in order to try and peak for the quarter final.

 

Now attending his fifth World Cup, Hansen had learned that World Cup games were different to Test matches.

 

"You've got to pace yourself, you don't win the tournament in the first round and then once you get to the knockout stage then you have got to earn the right to come back to training on Monday. You can't take anything for granted and there is a pressure that doesn't normally come," he said.

 

That pressure applied across the board on all teams because they all wanted to win it. That still applied to Test matches as well, but the World Cup was a bigger event.

 

"It's what a lot of teams have worked for, for four years," he said.

 

And the tournament itself was 'really open', he said. There were five or six teams taking part who, deep down, believed they could win.

 

"In previous World Cups there have probably been two or three that honestly think they could but the interesting thing will be that things will happen that we don't expect to happen and it's how we deal with those things that will be really important.

 

"Every team will get the same amount of luck, every team will get the same amount of bad luck. It's what you do in that moment you get it and how you deal with it, both positively and negatively, that will make the difference," he said.

 

One of the lessons of the 2015 experience had been absorbing British culture to enjoy every moment of it and that would be the same in Japan. Attending a World Cup was a pinnacle in a career, not many people got to experience that type of thing and it would be foolish not to enjoy it, he said.

 

"Enjoying it, making sure you take in the culture that you are surrounded by. It's a pretty special place Japan so whilst we will work hard, we will also make sure we have a bit of time to have some fun," he said.

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