Despite having the Rugby Championship trophy already locked up for another year, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen insists the rematch between South Africa and New Zealand in Pretoria is no dead rubber.
“These are Test matches that you live for,” Hansen told media.
“They have never been anything other than a great opportunity to enjoy rugby for what it is. South Africa is one of the teams we respect the most because of our history and history is important to any team and it’s something that we have a really good understanding of.
“We get on well with them, they’re good sportsmen win, lose or draw. We enjoy each other’s company and this weekend is going to be nothing but the same,” he said.
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Hansen said that despite the 36-34 loss against the side in their last meeting in Wellington, plenty has been learned from the performance.
Hansen also insisted that any success would come from hard work and that the All Blacks have no sense of entitlement despite capturing their sixth Rugby Championship crown in the last seven years.
“We’ve got to earn the right to win this game by playing some really good rugby and we know what we are going to get,” Hansen said. “I don’t see it changing too much from Wellington; they’ll be in our face, they’ll be passionate and they’ll go the whole 80 and there’s going to be quite a lot of pain from the lung point of view I suggest for both sides.
“For a long time I think they have been a good side without having that self-belief, I think they’re starting to get it which makes them really dangerous.”
The sides meet in Pretoria on Sunday morning (NZT) and will meet again in pool play during the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
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