Steve Hansen says whoever wins Saturday’s Test between the All Blacks and Ireland in Dublin should be regarded as the No 1 side in Test rugby.
The two teams, ranked first and second respectively, will clash for the first time since 2016 when they played each other in a doubleheader. On that occasion, Ireland stormed to a 40-29 victory in Chicago, before New Zealand bounced back to win 21-9 in Dublin.
The All Blacks are coming off a hard-fought 16-15 win against England at Twickenham, where the home side was a disallowed try away from a stunning win, while Ireland were also pushed hard in their victory over Argentina.
Hansen built the Test up as a winner-takes-all clash upon the team’s arrival in Dublin.
‘It is one and two, so whoever wins will be the best side in the world regardless of rankings,’ Hansen said. ‘That is the mental state people take out of it, so it is going to be a good one.
‘We don’t have to talk about it because there is enough experience in the group to know that this is the type of game it is. You don’t get any bigger.
‘We talked about last week being a big game … 80,000 people in the stadium and I think England had been beaten once at home in the last 16 or 17 games.
‘Ireland I don’t think have been beaten too often either. And they are the No 2 side in the world and you don’t get to play one and two that often when they are in two separate hemispheres, so when they do come about, they become pretty big games.’
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images