Hansen explains changes

Date published: November 23 2013

New Zealand boss Steve Hansen sighted their tough schedule as the key reason for making changes to his side for Sunday.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen highlighted a tough schedule as the key reason for making changes to his side that will face Ireland on Sunday.

Hansen, who was assistant coach to Graham Henry when New Zealand won the World Cup on home soil two years ago, is adamant that even with the radical changes to his line-up that will play in Dublin, and without the experience of injured duo Dan Carter and Tony Woodcock, the side can create history at the Aviva Stadium.

“In the last nine weeks, we've gone round the world twice, and this will be our seventh test in nine weeks,” said the 54-year-old, whose side will be bidding to make it 14 wins from 14 matches.

“We've had a big, physical game against Argentina, another physical performance in Johannesburg, a lot of running and chasing in Dunedin, then France was physical and England was physical.

“It's just the accumulation of a lot of travel and game-time. We need fresh legs and we've got ability sitting there fresh, so why not use them?”

A lot of eyes will be fixed on Carter's replacement at fly-half, 24-year-old Aaron Cruden, but assistant coach Ian Foster has few doubts about his ability to shine.

“Cruden can be very satisfied with his year as he has started a fair amount of tests and run the games really well, especially the first Test of the Rugby Championship against Australia (All Blacks won 47-29),” said Foster.

Foster, who was brought on board by Hansen after the World Cup triumph, said that neither complacency nor fatigue could be deployed as excuses if they slip up on Sunday and claimed making history was not on their minds.

“It's boring press but for us this game is just the next one, nothing more,” he said.

“We're not seeing it as the last one. We're really pleased with the first two results (beating France and England) but we're not happy with the performances.

“We're ambitious and we are still chasing that great performance. So this match for us it is not relevant that it is either the last Test of the year or that the opposition is Ireland.”