All Blacks Boss Steve Hansen Has Already Begun His Mind Games With Ireland

Mind games.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has wasted no time in beginning his mind games with Ireland ahead of their Rugby World Cup quarter-final meeting on Saturday.

Ireland secured a bonus-point win in their final pool match against Samoa on Saturday but Japan’s famous win over Scotland means they top the group and face South Africa, with Ireland set to take on the current back-to-back champions in Tokyo.

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Joe Schmidt’s side have beaten the All Blacks twice in their last three meetings and the Ireland boss known for his meticulous attention to detail which results in him and his team spending a lot of time analysing opponents to find potential weaknesses they can exploit.

And Hansen reckons New Zealand might be able to use that against him and “set him up” on Saturday.

“We’ve got weaknesses like everybody else, so you’ve got to look at your own weaknesses as much as anybody else’s,” Hansen said

“You know that Joe does a lot of studies, so that can be a strength and a weakness. I might be able to set him up.”

But Hansen knows his players cannot take Ireland lightly this weekend.

“I think there’s a lot of respect from both sides. We played them in November and it was a titanic struggle and on the day they were the better side. Most teams we play get up 10% better than they normally do and they’re no different,” Hansen added

“The big difference here is it’s a do-or-die game for both teams. Both teams are in good nick – fresh, excited and, I can only speak on behalf of ourselves, we’re really looking forward to the challenge.

“They have brought out the best in us for a long, long time. I don’t know how many games we have played and we enjoy playing them and that hasn’t changed because they have beaten us a couple of times. 

“A lot of people are going to be talking about the past but it’s what happens on Saturday that counts. What happened prior to that is irrelevant.”