Hansen on Lions: Expectation, style, depth and Hartley

Date published: April 20 2017

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen discussed a number of topics relating to the Lions with reporters on Thursday.

Hansen believes that the Lions will be under plenty of pressure to deliver given the quality in the group.

“It’s going to be a very good side and they’ll come with a lot of expectation, which I think is going to be interesting to see how they cope with that. A lot more expectation than they’ve been used to because people expect them to win,” Hansen told Stuff.

The All Blacks boss also admitted that the make-up of the squad was far from a surprise, with Gatland opting for a number of powerful ball carriers.

“It’s pretty much what you’d expect from Warren [Gatland],” he said.

“He likes his big ball carriers in the middle of the park and his big grunty forwards so that’s what he’s picked and I’d expect we’ll get a similar game-style to whatever we’ve got when we’ve played a Warren Gatland team.”

And Hansen recognised the depth available to Gatland by mentioning some of those top players who hadn’t make the 41-man group heading to New Zealand in June.

“I think this is the best British and Irish Lions that we’ve seen come here for a long, long time,” Hansen said.

“There is depth all the way through, that’s why people like [Dylan] Hartley and some of the Scottish boys have missed out because there’s so much depth.

“You’ve only got to look at the fly-halves. A guy like Finn Russell’s been playing extremely well and can’t even make the team because they’ve got Sexton, Farrell and Biggar there, you’ve also got young Ford missing out.”

Hansen also hinted that had he been Lions coach then he would have given serious thought towards selecting Dylan Hartley, the England captain who missed out on the squad.

“The guy who has the last say is usually the guy that is coaching them. I think (Hartley) would have been an asset but I’m not picking the team.”

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