AUCKLAND (Reuters) - New Zealand coach Steve Hansen called for a sense of perspective about this weekend’s test against the British and Irish Lions on Thursday and said the All Blacks would end up an improved side whatever the result of the match.
The Lions handed the All Blacks a home defeat for the first time since 2009 in Wellington last weekend to level up the series and force a decider back at New Zealand’s rugby fortress Eden Park.
Exuding a calm he might hope his side emulates after selecting a team with two fresh starters and a trio of Barrett brothers, Hansen said he thought there had been some over-reaction to last weekend’s 24-21 defeat.
“It’s not the first time we have lost. I have read a lot of stories this week, you’d think the All Blacks have never lost a game and the sky is falling in,” he told reporters.
”Every week there is pressure. We are expected to win every test match and expected to win them well.
“You’ve got to walk towards it and at the end of the day life tells you we’re only playing a rugby game.”
Hansen, who has overseen precisely five defeats in 71 tests since he took over after the 2011 World Cup triumph, was a policeman before he took up the coaching reins and warmed to a theme he has expanded upon before.
“Real pressure is spending half an hour giving someone CPR and trying to save their life,” he added.
”Then, if that doesn’t work telling their children or father or mother that you were unable to save them. That’s real pressure. What we’re doing is playing a game of rugby.
“When you look at it. You can win. You can lose. You can draw. And whatever the outcome, we will be better for it. We’re a young side in the infancy of where we’re going.”
Regardless of the pressure, the omens look good for the winners of the last two Rugby World Cups.
They have backed up from all four previous defeats under Hansen with victories in the next match and can still boast a winning streak at Eden Park dating back to 1994.
“Is there any more pressure this week than last week? No, because we have to win to win the series. We haven’t changed our week too much,” Hansen added.
“Is there a little bit more angst? Probably, because we lost and we don’t like that. But the formula hasn’t changed that much.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury, Writing by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty