Thursday, October 22, 2015

Steve Hansen on 'flattery alert'

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is on flattery alert after Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer's lavish praise regarded the New Zealand team as possibly the best to ever play the game.

As the two teams prepare for their Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown at Twickenham on Sunday morning (NZT), the usual war of words has turned into a mutual admiration society, and Hansen has warned it's all a ruse.

Meyer looked to be reading his compliments from prepared notes during his Wednesday press conference which would give substance to Hansen's claim that it was all part of a Springbok master plan.

"Externally some people have got carried away [after New Zealand's 62-13 win over France], but internally it has been really important to put a full stop on it," Hansen said.

If New Zealand didn't they would go from being great to struggling.

"It is going to require another top performance on Saturday," he said.

"He [Meyer] has been praising us all week. That is a tactic. Whilst I know he means some of it, at the same time I know they're getting ready to rip our heads off and we need to be in that same state. A cunning wee devil is Heyneke.

"Behind closed doors, he is not saying that too much. If we don't come with our A game then we won't get a chance.

"You can't get caught lapping up the praise," Hansen said.

The New Zealanders, who are chasing their first Webb Ellis tournament win away from home soil, were where they wanted to be.

"We are really excited. It has been a great week and we are ready to go," he said.

Hansen added that he didn't think the All Blacks had reached their peak.

"I don't think we've played our best rugby. We went through the pool stages and [the media] were telling us we were struggling, which I really appreciated because it kept us on edge and then we played really well," he said.

It was the same again this week and the prospect was even worse than the loser going home, the prize was worse, having to play the game for third place.

The All Blacks respected the fear of not making the finals.

"It's a stupid man that doesn't fear. If you go into a fight and you don't fear the guy you're fighting then you're either fighting the wrong bloke or you're stupid.

"That fear just heightens everything. It makes sure all your emotions are in the right place so you can deliver the performance you need to," he said.

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