All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says that there is no point in getting involved in mind games ahead of Saturday’s semi-final against England.
With England coach Eddie Jones having started his usual psychological battle at a media conference on Tuesday, a composed Hansen avoided being drawn into discussing Jones’ comments and instead took a swipe at the Six Nations’ view of developing the global game.
‘It’s a real thing [the mind games], but sometimes you’re better not to bother going there and sometimes you are,’ said Hansen.
‘Eddie [Jones] will decide whether he wants to go there and I’ve already decided what I want to do. You’ll have to wait and see, I guess. There’s still a couple more days to go. There’s no point is there? He’s a smart man. He knows me and I know him.’
The All Blacks have enjoyed a dominant run against England in recent years, having beaten them 15 out of the last 16 times the two sides have faced each other. Hansen’s dig at the northern-hemisphere rugby bosses came after he was questioned about the rivalry between New Zealand and England.
‘I think South Africa is always going to be our biggest rival because of all the history that comes with it and because we play each other so regularly,’ continued Hansen.
‘I think we’ve played England once in the last six years, so it’s hard to build a rivalry when you don’t play each other. If we could get the Six Nations to come on board for a global season, we’d be able to do that. Once they do that, then they’re starting to think about the game rather than themselves. There’s a headline for you.’
With Jones labelling the All Blacks as the greatest team in sports history and insisting that New Zealand are overwhelming favourites to win in Yokohama, Hansen said that he was grateful for the comments but quickly downplayed his counterpart’s ‘kind’ words.
‘It’s a really nice statement and I wouldn’t doubt that Eddie believes that, but he is also being quite kind to us,’ grinned Hansen.
‘History is history and it is about creating new history. Both teams are going to go at each other on Saturday and that game won’t define either team, but it will give one team the opportunity to go through to play a final.’