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All Blacks head coach praises Joe Schmidt for Ireland performances

16 November 2018

Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll and All Blacks legend Tana Umaga met ahead of Ireland vs New Zealand this Saturday and they had some very interesting insights into the big match.

"He's very competitive", said Hansen at Thursday's press conference in Blanchardstown. You got to admire what he has done.

New Zealand battled past England 16-15 at Twickenham last weekend as Read grabbed that 100th Test victory.

"We've got to find our opportunities (to try to win the ball), we can't be too hungry to look for those opportunities, discipline's going to be crucial".

Crotty was the clear choice to replace Williams according to Hansen with his direct running and good decision making ultimately earning him the nod in the midfield while Chiefs centre Anton Lienert-Brown moves onto the bench.

New Zealand visit the Aviva Stadium on Saturday for the first game between the sides since an ill-tempered clash in Dublin back in 2016.

Hansen says Schmidt has managed to get the best out of the players at his disposal and uses their individual strengths as a team collective.

Umaga revealed there's a lot of excitement in New Zealand about the encounter, but they're also wary of Joe Schmidt's side. He said, "If they win the kicking game, they'll win".

"Each coach has got to coach the group of athletes the way that best suits them".

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"That was something I found out when I was in Wales".

"If they don't get what they want they take to the air".

"What most people don't understand is that everybody we play has the game of their lives, because we're the team that they want to beat and they get up for for it".

"They'll find a weakness". What we do with the ball ourselves is important and so if we kick it we've got to kick it well, make sure we get a chance to get it back and do a wee bit of suffocating ourselves. "There's been a lot of talk, it's one vs two so that's the way we see it".

The All Blacks prevailed 21-9 on that occasion but with Ireland now number two in the world and Grand Slam champions, expectations are building that Joe Schmidt's men could record a first ever win over the Kiwis on home soil.

Two-time Six Nations grand slam victor Kearney, one of the game's best defenders under a high ball, returns at fullback in place of 21-year-old Jordan Larmour, who drops back to the bench after struggling under a barrage of towering Argentine kicks last week.

"It's always an achievement to beat the All Blacks, that's why we limit ourselves to once every 115 years because we don't want to get carried away with things", Schmidt joked.

Asked how to stop Ireland suffocating his side with possession, Hansen replied: 'You hang on to it yourself; have a crack at them at source.

All Blacks head coach praises Joe Schmidt for Ireland performances