Hansen: We won’t be undercooked

Date published: October 8 2015

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New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen insists that his charges will be ready for their Rugby World Cup quarter-final after finishing top of Pool C.

Argentina were the only team in the pool to trouble the All Blacks, who defeated Los Pumas 26-16 after a strong second-half performance in their opener.

Since then, the defending champions have walked over Namibia, Georgia and are expected to do the same against Tonga in Newcastle on Friday.

In 2007, New Zealand dominated the pool stages only to come unstuck against an inspired French team in the last eight at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Despite three relatively easy games leading up to their quarter-final – where they will face either France or Ireland in Cardiff again – Hansen believes the team will be battle hardened.

"I don't think there's any potential of us being under-cooked," he told reporters.

"We knew we were coming into a pool that was very similar to what we had in 2007 and 2011. We've devised a strategy for that and worked incredibly hard on the training pitch.

"That might not have been reflected in the quality of performance that everyone expects from us, but we know how hard we’ve been working. It's probably harder than we've ever worked together as a team in the last four years.

"Physically, we'll be ready, I've got no doubts about that. I know that, mentally, we're a strong side so we've just got to go out, enjoy the game on Friday and walk towards the pressure of whoever we play at the Millennium. That's what we play Test matches for. The bigger the challenge, the better it is, and you don't get too many opportunities to play in anything bigger than this."

Reflecting on the 2007 blunder, Hansen indicated that the string of changes seemed to upset the All Blacks' rhythm, a mistake that will not be repeated.

"In 2007, I think we had 12 changes between the matches in the third and fourth round," added Hansen.

"That's one thing we're not doing this time. I also don’t think we worked hard enough in those weeks between the rounds back then.

"In the last two weeks, we’ve had eight-day turnarounds, and that's allowed us to train an extra day and train harder. With the group we have, we have some of the best opposition in the world that we can call upon to train against. That’s what we’ve done."

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