New Zealand boss Steve Hansen has played down injury fears surrounding skipper Kieran Read. The All Blacks captain was not seen at training on Tuesday, but Hansen insisted Read isn’t doubtful for Saturday’s semi-final showdown in Yokohama versus England.
“There is no issue,” he clarified. “You didn’t see him train because he was in the gym on the bike. He got a tight calf from the game the other day and we didn’t want to put him out on a wet track today.”
Probed on whether he is confident Read will be fit for the semi-final, Hansen added: “Yeah, 100 per cent.”
One player who won’t be available, though, is replacement forward Matt Todd. “He is making good progress but not fast enough so he won’t be available (for the England game). He should be right if we are lucky enough to play another game next week.”
Saturday’s fixture will pit two of the most manipulative coaches in the game against each other and Hansen is ready to embrace any mind games that happen between himself and Eddie Jones.
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“It’s a real thing, but sometimes you are better not to bother going there and sometimes you are. Eddie will decide whether he wants to go there and I’ve already decided what I want to do.
“You’ll have to wait and see, I guess. There are still a couple more days to go. There’s no point is there? He’s a smart man. He knows me and I know him,” he said, admitting he is braced to expect the unexpected from England.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 21, 2019
“We got the same question from the Irish last week. You’ll be naïve as a coach not to expect the opposition to do something different. That is their job. You practise it and you implement it. If it works, you are a superstar and if it doesn’t you’re an idiot. It’s a fine line we live, us coaches.”
Jones has so far been sweetness and light, describing New Zealand the greatest team in sports history. “It’s a really nice statement and I wouldn’t doubt that Eddie believes that, but he is also being quite kind to us,” responded Hansen.
“History is history and it is about creating new history. Both teams are going to go at each other on Saturday and that game won’t define either team but it will give one team the opportunity to go through to play a final.”
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