Hansen not reading too much into pre-Cup results

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Lynn McConnell     03 Sep 2019     Getty Images

Those games had reflected what Hansen and All Blacks' team management had been saying about their own side over the last six weeks, that it takes time for teams to get going.

"Ireland started later than everybody else so they got thumped by a team [England] that had played three games, was match fit, understood their systems and what they were trying to do.

"Ireland weren't match fit, probably still aren't to be fair, after only two Tests together and he [coach Joe Schmidt] would have used different members in the squad. They won't, under pressure, have their game plan sorted yet. Wales helped them out a bit by making 11-12 changes and Ireland after losing to England would have been really focused on the job [of beating Wales at the weekend].

"You're going to see lots of form dips and things that don't seem normal because it's not a normal year. Over there, they're playing for nothing other than pride and getting ready to go to the World Cup," he said.

Coaches were chopping and changing their teams to give players opportunities while Ireland coach Schmidt had concentrated on getting fitness sorted and that was why he had started his games later.

"There's no point in trying to judge them now because everyone is doing everything different," he said.

Hansen said so far as favouritism for the tournament was concerned he said it didn't concern him if the All Blacks were the favourites.

"Better to be the favourite than not the favourite," he said.

"If we weren't the favourite that means we're going poor, even when we're going poor we're the favourites.

"I'm happy where we're at, that's all I'm worried about. That's all I can control. I can go to training Sunday to Friday and we all get that bit right, we've got a chance Saturday," he said.

He couldn't control what other teams were doing, but all the top tier nations would be hard to beat because they were all preparing well.

"On any given day, as we found out in 2007, if you get to the knockout stage and you don't turn up with the right attitude you go home.

"You've got to earn the right to stay in this tournament so it would be a waste of time and energy and words trying to point who is going to be tough because they are all going to be tough," he said.

The All Blacks had to concentrate this week on a good performance against Tonga, take some confidence out of that and then get on the plane on Monday and get excited about the challenge of trying to make it three World Cup wins in a row.

"To me, that's what we can control," he said.