Hansen hails ‘mental fortitude’

Date published: November 8 2014

Steve Hansen cited ‘mental fortitude’ and ‘organisational commitment’ as keys to the All Blacks win in the Twickenham rain.

Steve Hansen cited ‘mental fortitude’ and ‘organisational commitment’ as keys to the All Blacks win as the Twickenham rain deluged the stadium during an attritional second half.

“We were lucky to still be in the game at half-time the way England came at us. They came at us hard early on, and when you have a guy as quick as Jonny May, missing two tackles in the opening play means he’s pretty likely to score,” he remarked dryly.

“We’ve now played England five times in a year and two weeks and every game has been very challenging. What was noticeable today was they reverted back to the physical ‘route one’ game of old and we saw less of the handling and running that they displayed during the tour in July.

“They wanted to out scrum us, drive us and muscle us. I’ll be interested to see how they react in terms of style for the rest of the November Tests and if they try to play with more freedom against the power of South Africa.”

England showed glimpses of that outstanding running and handling in the first half, yet still went in at half-time with honours even. What changed in the interval to produce the breakdown and territorial dominance shown buy the visitors in the second half?

“We discussed the situation and we knew we had to become a wee bit more urgent in the second half,” explained Hansen.

“We needed to get urgent for 40 minutes rather than desperate in the last five and once we’d got that momentum, it allowed us to control territory and I was particularly pleased in the way Aaron Cruden controlled that area of the game in the third quarter. They showed fortitude and mettle to dig in when they needed to.”

All Black skipper Richie McCaw, in perhaps his penultimate appearance at Twickenham, was quick to stress that need to gain control.

“Not a lot had to be said because in fairness we’ve been there a few times this year. The big thing was we didn’t want to give them an easy out and we needed to bar up the windows,” said McCaw.

“The guys knew what was required and they became excited as we came on top.

“There was a lot more bounce in the second half, and ironically the sin bin almost have the effect of flicking a switch in terms of concentration and execution.

“I have to say I’m pretty proud of the way the leaders in the team reacted out there.”

by James While