Hansen wary of England threat

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Steve Hansen is wary of the threat posed by England Steve Hansen is wary of the threat posed by England

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen insists ruin awaits at the hands of England at Eden Park on Saturday if his world champions make the mistake of dwelling on a record-breaking year.

The All Blacks became the first team to win every Test in a calendar year after marking 2013 with 14 successive victories.

Local bookmakers have installed them as 1/16 favourites to extend that sequence to 15 wins, against Stuart Lancaster's under-strength tourists.

But Hansen declares previous achievements, no matter how recent, must be viewed as irrelevant if only a third defeat to England on Kiwi soil is to be avoided.

"If we hang on to last year we'll get thumped, so the first thing we have to do is exactly what we did after winning the World Cup - put a full stop on it," he said.

"Yes, 2013 was a good year, but the reality is that we could have been beaten two or three times.

"The other reality point is that this England side can do some things better than we can. We need to make sure we improve in those areas.

"There are teams out there who are well and truly capable of beating us, so we have to make sure we've done all the homework we need to do.

"We're not a bad team when we turn up and we want to give a performance we're proud of. If we do that and we're beaten, that's life."

Two days after blundering All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick exposed his lack of knowledge of English rugby by failing to correctly name one tourist, Hansen took steps to repair the damage.

The former Wales coach offered the recent meeting between the rivals last November, which ended in a riveting 30-22 win at Twickenham for New Zealand, as a reason why Saturday's game is far from a foregone conclusion.

"England are the most improved side in world rugby of the last 18 months," he said.

"There's been a lot of talk that this is a poor England side, but there aren't that many changes from the last time we played them and that was a great contest.

"Their environment seems to be one of 'keep quiet, get on and do the work', and that makes them dangerous.

"They've improved their skill sets and want to play rugby, which again makes them more dangerous.

"I imagine they'll look to drive us a lot at the line-outs, look to come up the middle of the park and use switches to see if we have our short side defence sorted out."

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