- Coach wants All Blacks to raise the bar against England
- Hansen hails centurion Carter as a "special, special player"
Steve Hansen is demanding his New Zealand side take their performance to new levels against England on Saturday as they look to underline their status as the best team in world rugby.
The All Blacks took their winning streak to 12 matches with victory over France last weekend in Paris, following their faultless Rugby Championship campaign.
But they have unfinished business at the home of rugby this weekend in the third QBE International of the autumn as they look to avenge last year’s defeat to England – their only loss in 33 matches since August 2011.
Following Stuart Lancaster’s declaration that he wants England to rise to second in the world rankings by the end of the year, Hansen insisted the world champions measure themselves against their own previous performances and are ready to raise the bar once again.
“I read this week that England want to be number two in the world and they are striving to be better than they are,” he said. “What we are striving to be is better than who we are at the moment, which is number one.
“If you don’t look to improve yourself, you are going to go backwards. So our whole aim as a group of players, coaches, management – right down to our baggage man – we just want to be better than we were the week before.”
And the key to that, according to Hansen, is their focus on performance and preparation over outcomes.
“We have a belief in this group that if you start looking at the outcome you are going to fall over,” he said. “It is about the process. If we get our processes right, and the processes that we have to get right are from Friday to Sunday, because that sets you up to play on Saturday.
“Saturday is the fun part. If we could just rock up and play like the people that wear those jerseys play, we would all do it. But they only do that because they get the processes from Friday to Sunday really right.
“It takes a lot of hard work, which is mentally tough as well as physically. For us it is about getting that right and then we know we have some talent in that group and if we turn up as best we can then we are going to be hard to beat."
England have achieved back-to-back wins in the QBE Internationals so far this autumn with victories over Australia and Argentina, to extend their winning run at Twickenham to six.
“It is a very good side, a team with a lot of confidence, strong up front and the ability to score tries out wide,” Hansen said. “So we will have to turn up and play the best we can.”
Dan Carter will win his 100th cap for the All Blacks against England this weekend in a starting XV that shows one change to the team that defeated France, with Julian Savea replacing Cory Jane on the left wing.
Carter made his international debut as a 21 year-old against Wales in 2003 and ahead of his ascension into the centurion club, Hansen hailed the All Blacks fly half as a ‘special, special player’, who is relishing a new lease of life after overcoming a series of injuries in recent seasons.
“For any All Blacks to be able to sustain a career long enough to play 100 games is a special player,” Hansen said. “He is probably one of the special, special ones. He has been pretty frustrated over the last 18 months with injuries – he hasn’t had much luck with that – he is on top of that at the moment, which is great. And he is well deserving of the honour."