By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 15/11/18 6:04pm
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen expects “a trick or two” from Ireland when they face each other in Dublin on Saturday.
The eagerly-anticipated clash at the Aviva Stadium sees the top two teams in world rugby go up against each other, with Hansen suggesting all of the All Blacks’ opponents up their game against them.
An intriguing sideshow sees Hansen test himself against Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, who is tipped as his possible successor when the New Zealand head coach leaves his post at the end of the next World Cup.
Crotty in for Sonny Bill Williams
Ryan Crotty will replace the injured Sonny Bill Williams in New Zealand’s team for the autumn Test against Ireland on Saturday.
Hansen said earlier in the week the winner of this match could call themselves the best team in the world and he expects Six Nations champions Ireland to battle hard for a first-ever victory over the All Blacks in Dublin.
“You’ve got to admire what they’re doing. They hang on to the ball for long periods of time, they’re probably the team in World Rugby that hang on to the ball the most,” said Hansen.
“When they don’t get what they want with that they’ll take to the air and they’ve got a good kicking game. You’ve got to admire all of that, it’s winning and they’ll punish you.
“They’ll find a weakness. He’s pretty good, Joe, at finding a trick or two, so we’ll be expecting one or two coming our way on Saturday.
“Each coach has got to coach the group of athletes the way that best suits them. That was something I found out when I was in Wales: you might have an idea of how you want to play, but if you don’t have the athletes that can do that you have to re-jig your thought process.”
Ireland make four changes for NZ
Joe Schmidt has made four changes from the Ireland team that beat Argentina ahead of Saturday’s showdown with the All Blacks.
Hansen expects Ireland to raise their level further, given the chance to put down a marker ahead of the World Cup in Japan next year.
“What most people don’t understand is that everybody we play has the game of their lives, because we’re the team that they want to beat and they get up for it,” he added.
“So they’re playing 10 per cent better than they would have from the get-go and if they’re a good side playing 10 per cent better, then we’ve got to improve a lot ourselves.
“Sometimes it’s a real battle. This time of year particularly, we’re coming to the end of our season and we’ve got to find ways to get energised and play with real purpose.”
They’ll find a weakness. He’s pretty good, Joe, at finding a trick or two, so we’ll be expecting one or two coming our way on Saturday.
Steve Hansen on Joe Schmidt
Hansen remains confident the All Blacks will secure a second successive win on tour after they recovered from 15-0 down to beat England in torrential rain last weekend.
“You’ve got to be confident when you’ve had the success that this team has had,” he said.
“You have got to keep your self-belief, they’re very good at finding a way when things are not going the way they want them to go.”