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All Blacks better than 2005, Hansen warns Lions

By Matthew Scott
New Zealand rugby coach Steve Hansen

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Steve Hansen has warned the British and Irish Lions that New Zealand are a more complete team than the one who destroyed the tourists 3-0 in 2005.


All Blacks coach Hansen was an assistant when the Lions last visited New Zealand and Clive Woodward’s men were sent home with their tails tucked between their legs.

World Cup winners Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Keven Mealamu all played pivotal roles in that series but have since retired.

However, the likes of Sam Cane, Beauden Barrett and Malakai Fekitoa have emerged as able replacements to those legends and Hansen believes strengthening in other areas makes the All Blacks even more dangerous.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I think it’s a more complete side now.

“If you look across the board there are one or two positions where we’re stronger.

“McCaw and Carter were very special players, and probably all-time greats.


“But we’re better at the line-out because we’ve got more height there. I think it’s a slightly stronger side.”

The Lions’ hopes have been tempered somewhat by the loss of England’s destructive number eight Billy Vunipola, but Hansen does not view it as a difference-maker.


“Billy is a quality player. It’ll be a loss. But somebody will step up; I’m a firm believer that one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity,” he said.

“James Haskell is a good player, he knows New Zealand well, he’s played Super Rugby, and after missing out the first time he’ll be keen to show he should have been picked in the first place.

“I don’t think I have to give Lions supporters any reason for optimism. I think they’ve already got it. They’ll be coming out here with reasonably large expectations that they can win the series.

“This is a good team. If I were a Lions supporter coming down I’d think, we’ve got four countries coming up against one – we should win.”


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