Joe Schmidt may have made just the one injury-enforced change to the side that brought down the All Blacks in Chicago for tomorrow’s renewal but Steve Hansen believes his counterpart won’t look to rewrite the first game’s script entirely word for word.
The Ireland coach has proven to be a master at presenting a variation of different systems and styles from game to game in his time over the national team, most recently in South Africa last summer when all three Tests threw up new approaches.
“I’m sure he’ll have a trick or two up his sleeve other than just his arm,” said Hansen. “I’m sure he’s got a trick there. He enjoys coming up with (them).
“That’s how he coaches and it’s always been his coaching style. He likes to analyse the opposition and find ways how to try and open you up and he’s pretty good at it.”
International weeks can be weighty affairs filled with tension but the assertion by the All Blacks coach that his record-breaking, back-to-back world champions go into this one as underdogs has raised some mirth and a few eyebrows.
But there was no mistaking the determination to atone, not so much for their recent reversal but their performance in the US.
“One of the things important to us is our legacy, which is a fancy word for history and the boys will be aware of it,” said Hansen.
“They’ll talk about it amongst themselves and as a team and our history and we let our history down in Chicago and we didn’t perform to the level we expect.
“If you lose games and you play well, you get beaten by the better team. But if you lose and don’t play well then it becomes very frustrating and we know we didn’t play anywhere near as well as we can play.
“We know we’ll have to play to that very high level if we’re going to win against Ireland because they’re a good side.”
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