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Hansen tries to temper expectations

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen would welcome a series whitewash against England but is too experienced to believe that would signpost a strong World Cup defence.

The All Blacks are targeting a record-equalling 17th successive victory in Saturday's third and final Test at Waikato Stadium.

The rivals will meet again at Twickenham in November, before New Zealand return in September 2015 to launch their quest to become the first team to retain the World Cup.

A 3-0 series victory over the tournament hosts - who are ranked second favourites - would build momentum, but Hansen was present when the All Blacks were knocked out by France at the quarter-final stage in 2007 despite having amassed seven successful wins against Les Bleus.

"The series is right now so a clean sweep would be pretty special. We try to live in the present and only look towards the future a wee bit," he said.

"There are different campaigns we have over the year and that becomes the key focus.

"If we manage to play well enough to win the Test on Saturday then we'll be pretty happy.

"If you'd said to us before that we'd win 3-0 then that's what we wanted and we'd have been pretty happy.

"But we beat France pretty regularly until the 2007 World Cup, except for the one that mattered."

Hansen has warned England that the All Blacks will run out at the Waikato Stadium with the ambition of producing their best performance of the series.

"I've thought a lot about how far we are away from being the side we want to be," Hansen said.

"We've probably got about four or five more steps to get there so that's been our focus this week.

"We're trying to lift our performance to a level that we can be really proud of.

"We want to improve our skills right across the park and have the energy to play the game at high speed and high intensity."


From Belfast Telegraph