No quarter asked and no quarter given, says unapologetic Steve Hansen

The morning after the night before, and there is no hint of the bark that Steve Hansen just about managed to contain when grilled on his team’s indiscipline.

In its place is a more soft-spoken recap of events just gone.

Hansen wasn’t surprised by the focus on the officiating and yet his annoyance with the spotlight thrown on his own team’s tendency to cross the line was evident on TV post-match and again in the press conference, when some answers stretched no further than a yes or a no.

“It was a good test match by both sides and plenty of attitude from both teams,” he offered just as the All Blacks were departing Dublin for Paris.

“Obviously the discipline has gotta improve. The Rob Henshaw tackle was a head clash. I just reviewed it again there this morning and they have collided heads. It wasn’t a high tackle so he was knocked out as soon as they knocked heads but Mala (Fekitoa’s on Simon Zebo) was high.

“He just needs to have a look at that. It’s clumsy and it’s not the way we want to play. He will be spoken to but it was a physical test match.

“That’s what you expect when you get two good sides playing each other.

“There was plenty of things on both sides. There was neck rolls and all sorts of things going on that were missed and that we could sit and complain about but when you get a physical test match you get a physical test match and that’s what it was.

“No quarter asked and no quarter given.”

New Zealand didn’t escape without some collateral damage.

Ben Smith and Sam Cane will sit out their last game of a long season, against the French next weekend, with a broken finger and high ankle sprain, respectively. They are staying on for now but Patrick Tuipoluto is on his way home for unspecified ‘personal reasons’.

There were more complimentary words for Joe Schmidt and his Ireland team and similar noises made about a French side that they destroyed last time out in the 2015 World Cup, but every coach’s focus is inward and Hansen is certainly no exception.

Many has been the All Black who has referenced the more physical, forward focus of the game north of the equator. It’s a familiar refrain come November when the southern boys pay visits but it is accentuated by the fact that this is a younger Kiwi vintage.

This stuff is new to a lot of them. Dominant all year against all-comers, they have found Ireland a far tougher nut to crack and they have had to find new ways to adapt to new questions. Not just that but it has prepped them for the challenge to come when the Lions visit next June.

“It’s gonna be a hell of a battle,” said Hansen.

“You combine four teams with all the talent that is up here and they’re going to come at you with some heavy artillery and we will have to fire up and get the job done. The British and Irish Lions are going to be a really good side, probably one of the best sides they’ve ever sent down. Looking forward to it.”


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