All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen isn’t worried about Nigel Owens’ refereeing this weekend, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a fan of the Welshman.
Hansen was speaking on Thursday at a press conference in the team hotel after announcing the All Blacks squad to face Ireland in their quarter-final on Saturday.
Owens – World Rugby’s best known and most celebrated referee – takes charge. Some Irish commentators have been wary of the appointment, with the consensus being that his selection favours New Zealand’s brand of free-flowing rugby.
One thing is clear, Hansen is happy with the man in the middle.
“Watch out for his sense of humour,” Hansen told reporters. “He’s pretty good with the one-liners.”
“You’re focusing on the wrong things if you’re worrying about the referee.
“He has his idiosyncrasies. We know about them, Ireland know them but what I like about Nigel is that he’s shown over the years that he is good under pressure. It will be a big-pressure game and we’re happy we have got him for this occasion.”
“Come the final whistle one (team) will go right and one will go left. As the Pink Panther said, stage right would be the way to go. We all understand that.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 29, 2019
“I caught up with (Ireland’s defence coach) Andy Farrell yesterday and had a yarn with him and in that conversation, that was brought up. One of us will be going home. But that’s just the cold, hard facts about the World Cup.
“We have experienced it (going out) ourselves in ’07 and there’s no guarantees we won’t experience it again. Ireland are in a situation where they haven’t gone past a quarter-final so they will be doing their darndest not to go home. We’ll be the same.
“You just hope it’s a good a game of rugby that excites the tournament, that is not affected by cards and, at the end of it, no one has got any excuses. You then just have to take your fate on the chin.”
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