Planet Rugby

Hansen expects England to improve

08th June 2014 10:03

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Corey Jane Mike Brown NZ V England Test 2014

The number of dropped balls off kicks is a worry for Steve Hansen

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen expects England to build on their performance from the first Test as the series progresses.

Hansen's charges were held for large periods by England at Eden Park on Saturday and it took a late Conrad Smith try to secure a 20-15 victory which gave the All Blacks a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series ahead of Saturday's second Test in Dunedin.

"I think we're all on the same page now that England aren't a bad side - I've been trying to tell you that," said Hansen.

"We've got a lot of work to do between now and next Saturday - we know now this is going be one of those special test series."

Hansen doesn't expect England coach Stuart Lancaster to change too much to his side's style despite having an additional 16 players to pick from after they arrived late from last weekend's Premiership Final.

"They won't change how they play," he added.

"Their game-plan may vary one or two degrees but basically we'll get what we got tonight, with maybe some different faces or fresher faces.

"The issue with Test rugby particularly in this country when you're in the middle of a competition, there's such a short period of time to get everybody gelled together.

"If we start panicking too much about what England do and change everything we're doing we'll recreate what we had this week which is a lot of learning and clutter."

Hansen rated the All Blacks' performance at around 70 percent and admitted that the number of dropped ball off kicks was a big concern.

"When you see Ben Smith and Israel Dagg do it, and they're two of the best people in the world at it, it might have been one of those nights," he said.

"We'll have a good look at the tapes, and won't panic. We'll work on the things we need to work on, and come back really excited about what's going to be a great challenge in this three-match series."

Captain Richie McCaw believes his side's below-par showing was due to rust and their competitive opponents.

"I thought in the first half we were a bit rusty," he said.

"I said to the boys during the week test footy is a step up in intensity and pace, and I felt we were just half a yard off it in the first half.

"That second half we started to get into the game and build a bit of pressure. We got there in the end but we need to be a lot better going into the second test because you expect England for the same reasons to be better."

McCaw said England's staunch competitiveness did not surprise him.

"It was pretty combative round the contact area with and without the ball," he added.

"It was pretty physical which we expected. It's easy to expect but it's not until you get into it you're really reminded what test footy is all about.

"It's always the way every year in those first few minutes: It's here we are in test footy."

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