Hansen points to French lesson

by Staff Writer

Coach Steve Hansen points to a match at Eden Park 10 months ago to illustrate why the All Blacks will take nothing for granted against Australia in the second round of the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

The Wallabies will start firm outsiders in Auckland in a Test they need to win to keep their Bledisloe Cup hopes alive after their 27-19 defeat in Sydney last weekend.

But Hansen says France were seen in a similar light ahead of last year's World Cup final, when the All Blacks were hot favourites but ended up having to hang on for an 8-7 victory.

"We had a few people saying the same things about the French and we beat them by a point," said Hansen, who was one of then coach Graham Henry's assistants that night.

"Our job is to prepare well, respect the opposition, which we do, and keep ourselves grounded."

Hansen was also reading little into the entry in the history books showing the Wallabies haven't won at Eden Park since 1986.

He said teams could either carry around their shoulders the burden of what had gone on before, or they could front up and focus on the battle before them.

"Australia will be pretty disappointed about how they played last week," he said.

"It sounds like they've battened down the hatches and are getting into it a wee bit.

"We have to expect that they'll raise their game, their intensity and their accuracy of their game, so we have to do the same."

After the All Blacks' own patchy performance despite their win, Hansen said there was plenty for his players to work on.

He has made just one forced change to his match-day squad, with Wyatt Crockett coming into the starting 15 to replace the injured Tony Woodcock at loosehead prop.

Woodcock suffered rib damage in the Sydney Test and his unavailability means the All Blacks lose the experience of his 87 caps.

For Crockett, it will be his seventh Test appearance and his first since playing in the corresponding fixture 12 months ago.

Hansen said the reason for going for continuity in selection was because he wanted to give combinations more time to gel.

"We haven't played for a wee while, so we felt it was important to get our combinations going and give the group that started the other day a restart," he said.

"We're happy with how they went, but we're expecting to go up a level or two."

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