Steve Hansen on Joe Schmidt:

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Steve Hansen on Joe Schmidt: "We might be able to set him up"


New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has started the week on the front foot ahead of Saturday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Ireland in Tokyo. 

The All Blacks are the world champions but have suffered defeats to Joe Schmidt's men in two of their last three meetings.

New Zealand haven't played since the 6th October when they crushed Namibia.

Ireland will have held things back tactically as this match was always a possibility. In last November's famous win for Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Jacob Stockdale's try was as a result of Ireland pinpointing a Kiwi weakness.

Steve Hansen is nonplussed about this recurring in Japan: 

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

“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.”

Hansen feels the extra rest will benefit the tournament favourites: 

"Having a week off is not a bad thing. We’re quite excited by that fact it allowed us to work really hard Friday.

“GPS numbers were equivalent or just above what a normal Test match would be, so we don’t feel like we’ve lost any opportunity to get ourselves where we need to be.

“The exciting part is we had Saturday locked up in the hotel and had a whole day’s rest when we couldn’t do anything because of the storm.”

Hansen knows his players cannot take Ireland lightly: 

“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.

“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.”

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