Hansen hails 'new-level' attack
WORLD CUP REACTION: New Zealand coach Steve Hansen hailed his team’s stunning 46-14 quarterfinal demolition of Ireland on Saturday as a victory for a winning mentality and a disciplined pack of forwards.
The All Blacks, at their off-loading best, raced out to a 22-0 half-time lead and turned the screw in the second period, as Ireland scored two late consolation tries to avoid a whitewash.
“Our attack game has gone to a new level,” said Hansen, with Beauden Barrett again majestic from fullback and wings George Bridge and Sevu Reece involved in everything.
But the Kiwi coach said credit was due to the graft offered by a front five who outmuscled a touted Irish pack and employed a ferocious defence that stymied the men in green.
“Numbers one to five laid the platform,” he said, adding that the back row gets the immediate benefits, while the half-backs and Barrett “get to drive the game”.
“It’s a real simple formula: if you don’t go forward you don’t have opportunities to control it. That starts with the big men doing their job well.”
Hansen added: “Defence is 50 percent of the game and probably 90 percent when you take in the psychological value of it.
“We kept our discipline. When they carried we got up and made our tackles and they were punishing tackles and forced some errors. When you’re doing that teams start to second-guess a little bit and psychologically, you get an edge.”
That edge also nullified a raucous Tokyo Stadium seemingly half-full of Ireland fans.
“The Irish are some of the best travellers in the world, they go anywhere for a party and they enjoy it, they’ve got their songs and their way of doing things. It was sort of like a home match feeling,” Hansen said.
Hansen also questioned the merit of experience, saying it was a “funny thing”, with Ireland having never advanced beyond the quarterfinals of a World Cup despite boasting players with huge numbers of caps.
“A lot of our young guys have been involved in championship-winning teams in Super Rugby and big moments and that’s why you can select them with confidence,” he said.
“Their enthusiasm, excitement and ability to play the game in the form they’re in is really important, but so is the leadership of the guys who’ve been through the tough moments.
“Half of our 23 have played in a knock-out tournament and won it and that was the difference.
“I’m not being disrespectful in saying this, but Ireland’s experience is of not winning, but we had 11 guys who had experience of winning.”
Turning to semifinal opponents England, who beat Australia 40-16 in the day’s first quarterfinal, Hansen said: “I’m looking forward to playing them too now that we’ve earned the right to.
“They’ll be a massive challenge. But tonight’s not the night to be talking about that.
“We’ve got a formula that we work to. Test matches are hard work. You’ve got to take a wee bit of time to step off the merry-go-round and relax.
“We’ll do that, enjoy our moment. It was a special Test match… we won’t think about England until tomorrow.”
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