Belfast Telegraph

Dismissive: Steve Hansen says he knows how Lions will play

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has dismissed the relevance of Ireland’s win over his side last November on the upcoming Lions tour.

His opposite number, Warren Gatland, said the tourists would draw belief from the 40-29 win in Chicago, but Hansen was quick to remind his fellow countryman that New Zealand reversed the result two weeks later in Dublin.

Although he hailed the strength of the 41-strong Lions squad named on Wednesday, the New Zealand supremo appeared less than complimentary about the approach he expects from Gatland’s charges.

The two teams will meet three times in June and July after the Lions go through a hectic build-up having come together in the aftermath of the Premiership and Guinness PRO12 finals.

If Gatland is looking for his team to channel the spirit of Chicago, Hansen thinks he’ll need to look elsewhere.

“I am pretty happy that our guys got some confidence by beating Ireland in Ireland,” he said.

“You’re clutching at straws if that’s how you are selecting teams. You pick players who can do the job you want them to do and play the style of game you want to play.

“It (the squad) is pretty much what you’d expect from Warren. He likes his big ball carriers in the middle of the park and his big grunty forwards so that’s what he has picked and I’d expect we’ll get a similar game-style to whatever we’ve got when we’ve played a Warren Gatland team.

“I think they’ll tell us they will (want to play with an expansive style), but I think they will want to win up front first.

“This is the best Lions that we’ve seen come here for a long, long time.

“There is depth all the way through, that’s why people like (Dylan) Hartley and some of the Scottish boys have missed out because there’s so much depth.”

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