Steve Hansen insisted the All Blacks were embracing the pressure of trying to win a third straight Rugby World Cup.

New Zealand made history by becoming the first nation to win the tournament back-to-back when they clinched the title in England in 2015.

Aiming for a hat-trick in Japan, Hansen said it was something the All Blacks – who begin their campaign against South Africa on Saturday – were excited about.

"It's extremely exciting. Trying to do things that no one else has ever done before is a hallmark of what New Zealand people are about," he told a news conference.

"We came away from the home shores and settled in a country at the bottom of the Earth. We had to find ways to live in isolation. You know, life wasn't like it is today so they've become pioneers and I think that's really important in anything.

"In life, particularly in sport, you've got to strive to be leaders rather than followers and we get an opportunity that no one else at the tournament gets.

"We can either shy away from that or get really excited by it and we're excited by it."

The All Blacks will go into the tournament as favourites and are in Pool B alongside South Africa, Italy, Namibia and Canada.

Captain Kieran Read accepted there was pressure on his team, but he said they were welcoming it.

"Obviously there's pressure but I guess it's how you look at that pressure," he said.

"You know, whether that's something to overcome you or you walk towards that and you actually enjoy that so we wouldn't be sitting here as a part of this tournament if we didn't relish these opportunities to play at that highest level.

"And the World Cup is the highest level. It's what you want to do when you pick up this game and play for your country so look, we walk towards that expectation and we really relish it so that's what we're hoping to do this tournament."

Steve Hansen decided it was better for New Zealand to finish their 92-7 thrashing of Tonga with 14 men than risk Ryan Crotty for longer than necessary.

Crotty marked his first appearance since sustaining a broken thumb in the Crusaders' Super Rugby semi-final victory over the Hurricanes in June by touching down twice as the All Blacks sailed to victory in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up.

George Bridge scored four tries, Ben Smith bagged a double while Sevu Reece, Codie Taylor, Kieran Read, TJ Perenara, Matt Todd and Ardie Savea also got in on the act on Saturday.

Hansen had planned to limit Crotty to 65 minutes and stuck to that decision despite having already used all of his replacements.

"It was a good opportunity again to put ourselves under a bit of pressure when it comes to how many are on the park," Hansen said.

"We could have left him on, but Ben [Smith] came off because he was a bit tight in the hamstring, Beauds [Beauden Barrett] had already come off.

"We could have put Aaron [Smith] on the wing, but we were happy to put Aaron on for TJ and then of course we realised we wanted to take Ryan off at 65 because he's just come back and hasn't played for so long.

"He played 40 last week [in Canterbury's 80-0 Mitre 10 Cup victory over Southland] and 65 today and will be good to go in a couple of weeks.

"We could make a choice, and the scoreboard said we could make that choice without too much risk."

New Zealand begin their World Cup campaign against Rugby Championship winners South Africa in Yokohama on September 21 and Hansen felt the dismantling of Tonga was hugely beneficial to their preparation.

"Everyone got a run, and no injuries. We played some good footy and got the opportunity to just cement some combinations again, and finish a good week's work," he said.

"We got rugby time. We got collision time, we got set-piece time, we got time on the ball under pressure, and time on the ball in open space.

"That's what rugby's about, and we play a massive game in two weeks. If we didn't have any of that today, then we would have been in a lot of trouble. We got exactly out of it what we needed to get out of it."

Hansen will leave his post at the conclusion of the World Cup but was not feeling emotional about having overseen his last All Blacks Test on home soil.

"Clearly, you know it's your last game, but are we dwelling on that? No, [we are] trying very hard to stay focused on what we're trying to do, which is coach a team to try and win a third World Cup [in a row]," he said.

"When you retire you've got plenty of time to reminisce about all the stuff that's gone before you and pat yourself on the back or give yourself an uppercut depending on how things go."

Steve Hansen acknowledges New Zealand "rolled the dice" with the selection of Brodie Retallick in their Rugby World Cup squad as he will not be fit for the pool stage.

Retallick dislocated his shoulder in the All Blacks' Rugby Championship draw against South Africa last month, but he has been named in the 31-man group to travel to Japan.

Hansen, explaining his selection on Wednesday, admitted Retallick is unlikely to feature for the defending champions until the knockout stages.

"The update is his shoulder is still sore. We don't expect him to play in the round robin," he said, with his side set to face the Springboks, Italy, Namibia and Canada in Pool B. 

"But we're reasonably sure that – no disrespect to anyone else in our pool – we should make the quarter-finals. From there, we don't know.

"So, at this point, we've rolled the dice to take him for that quarter-final, and we'll see what happens from there.

"We think he's worthy of that risk. He's a quality player – and he'll add plenty to us off the park, as well."

Meanwhile, Liam Squire was not named in the squad, having previously made himself unavailable for international duty.

Hansen insisted it was a joint decision with Squire, who is leaving New Zealand at the end of the season to join Japanese club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, but the 28-year-old could yet join the group as a replacement.

"We had a phone call, a really good phonecall actually, and discussed things," he said.

"While Liam is playing really well for Tasman and enjoying his rugby, at the end of that conversation, it was agreed that he would make himself available if required as a replacement."

New Zealand are confident an injury scare for fly-half Richie Mo'unga will prove nothing to worry about.

With the Rugby World Cup just five weeks away, it appeared concerning when Mo'unga had to be replaced midway through the second half against Australia on Saturday.

The 25-year-old, who scored New Zealand's opening try in their 36-0 Bledisloe Cup win, went off with a shoulder blow after clashing with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.

But head coach Steve Hansen said in a post-match news conference at Eden Park he had no fears about Mo'unga facing a long lay-off.

"He's got a sore shoulder. He's not that bad, doc says he'll be fine," said Hansen.

"He got tipped up and fell on his shoulder. We'll know more in the morning, but doc's pretty comfortable with where he's at."

Hansen, after his 100th match in charge of the All Blacks, said he was pleased with New Zealand's response to their 47-26 defeat seven days prior in Perth as they retained the Bledisloe Cup.

"We had to respond to a performance last week that we would all say wasn't good enough from our point of view and an exceptional one from Australia," he said in quotes reported by the New Zealand Herald.

"It's a long time in sport, seven days, and I'm very proud of them. We got towelled up last week and I'm not sure any All Black has enjoyed that experience."

All Blacks captain Kieran Read saluted his team-mates after they retained the Bledisloe Cup with a clinical 36-0 win over Australia at Eden Park.

The world champions scored five tries without reply, as New Zealand made amends for last weekend's 47-26 defeat to the Wallabies in Perth.

Sonny Bill Williams, Sevu Reece and George Bridge were promoted to the starting XV and each scored a try, as Steve Hansen's 100th match in charge proved one to savour.

Read said: "It feels fantastic. A lot's been said all week and the guys really fronted. So, I'm so happy. It's a trophy that we cherish. I know the Wallabies do as well.

"We both really love playing for this cup and it showed in these two matches.

"I don't think you can expect to have a result like that, but it comes through hard work.

"The team truly believes in each other and that's what we're going to need moving forward."

His opposite number, Michael Hooper, had high hopes of becoming the first Australia skipper in 17 years to get to grips with the Bledisloe Cup trophy.

But Read it was who joyously lifted the silverware in Auckland, leaving Hooper to reflect on where the second game in the series went wrong for Australia.

Hooper said on Sky Sports: "The turnaround in seven days... they dominated all bar a few minutes of that game in all areas, they were really good at the scrum, lineout, so hats off to them.

"Our boys, we threw everything we had at them the whole game, probably let it get too far away in the end there.

"We've got a lot of heart, a lot of heart to come down here. We've had a really good week, unfortunately it didn't show out there tonight.

"But we'll rebuild. We're still rebuilding and gaining momentum.

"We'll have a couple of days off, it's going to take a toll on our bodies. We'll get back together, regroup, and see what we can learn from this game and build and get better."

Kieran Read insists the Bledisloe Cup decider with Australia will provide precisely the kind of high-pressure environment New Zealand thrive in.

The All Blacks suffered a stunning 47-26 loss to their rivals in Perth last time out, marking the highest points tally they have conceded in a Test and the joint-heaviest defeat in their proud history.

That result has given the Wallabies high hopes of a first series win over New Zealand since 2002 but Read says Steve Hansen's side are ready to put the record straight at Eden Park on Saturday.

"When you put in a performance like that, you want to rectify it," the captain said.

"We've got the chance this week, that's the best thing about it. We've had a good week but it's about putting it on the field.

"These moments are built for us as All Blacks and the way you're going to respond is crucial.

"This is a mental game as much as a physical game, so it's our response mentally and building up to the game in your head [that's important]. You can't do it all on the paddock.

"This group is hurting, that's how it should be in an All Black jersey and we've got the chance to go out and rectify that and we're excited by that."

The weight of history heavily favours New Zealand this weekend, with the nation unbeaten in 25 years at Eden Park.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has shown his ruthless side by making big changes to his team for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup redemption mission against Australia.

New Zealand were dealt a 47-26 thumping by the Wallabies last weekend in Perth, and Hansen has dropped prop Owen Franks and wings Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane for the rematch in Auckland.

He has been pressed into two further changes, with lock Scott Barrett suspended after his red card in the first game and centre Jack Goodhue injured.

Into the pack come Nepo Laulala and Patrick Tuipulotu, with the backs given a shuffle with the inclusion of George Bridge, Sonny Bill Williams and Sevu Reece.

Anton Lienert-Brown keeps his place for the Eden Park tussle but shuffles from inside to outside centre to accommodate Williams.

Head coach Hansen accused his team of playing "dumb footy" after the first game.

Ahead of the chance to avenge that heavy loss, he said: "We have worked hard this week on our game and all that comes with it. We've had a great preparation and really excited and looking forward to a massive, must-win match for the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday.

"We know that Australia will be determined and confident after their win in Perth which makes the challenge even more exciting."

With the Rugby World Cup just weeks away, Hansen wants to see a reaction from New Zealand to the joint-heaviest defeat in their history.

He said: "There's a lot of pride in the team and we've talked a lot about the Bledisloe being the second most important trophy and now we get the opportunity to show that this week - all of us working well, working hard, working smart."

Afterwards he will be able to make a judgement on whether the 15 players he fields were the right choices to handle the high-stakes occasion, or whether he needs to search again within his squad for his strongest line-up.

Hansen added, on the All Blacks website: "Australia showed they're a good side. We've got to put them under some pressure and take away the confidence they've got from playing the way they did last week.

"You've got to have a mindset that you've got to do whatever it takes to get yourself mentally and physically ready to play the game, and then you've got to walk towards that pressure and enjoy the pressure of it."

 

New Zealand team to play Australia: Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Nepo Laulala, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (captain).

Replacements: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Jackson Hemopo, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett.

Steve Hansen slammed his New Zealand side for playing "dumb footy" after Australia consigned them to a 47-26 Bledisloe Cup drubbing in Perth on Saturday.

The Wallabies eased to a rare win over their trans-Tasman rivals in a high-scoring contest at Optus Stadium, where Scott Barrett was sent off by referee Jerome Garces in the first half after being adjudged to have shoulder charged Michael Hooper.

Australia outscored the world champions by six tries to four to go top of the Rugby Championship table ahead of second-placed South Africa's clash with Argentina later in the day.

The All Blacks will slip off the top of the world rankings if Wales beat England on Sunday and head coach Hansen was not impressed with their showing in Western Australia.

Hansen said: "I'm obviously disappointed. Australia played particularly well and deserved the win. They were the best side on the day.

"The red card didn't help us, but we didn't help ourselves either. Our discipline was poor in the first half.

"There were numerous occasions when we got offside when we didn't need to.

"It was dumb footy and we've got to be smarter than that.

"Our changing shed is very disappointed because of how we performed and that's how it should be. Australia gave us a lesson in what to do when you have a side down by one man.

"At the same time, I'm extremely proud of the way they hung in. Australia wanted to play footy, they wanted to play fast. In the end we couldn't cover the extra space."

Australia head coach Michael Cheika has brushed off Steve Hansen's "Mickey Mouse" jibe ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener in Perth on Saturday.

New Zealand head coach Hansen labelled Cheika as the cartoon character during a fundraising event in Wellington in February.

Hansen was reacting to a statement brought up by former Australia player Mark Ella, who stated: "Mickey Mouse could coach the All Blacks to victory."

The wily Hansen quipped: "They've got Mickey Mouse coaching Aussie", but Cheika shrugged off the comment when asked about it two days before the trans-Tasman rivals do battle at Optus Stadium.

"Oh mate, is that even a question?" Cheika said when asked about Hansen's words.

"No drama for me."

He added: "There is certain things in footy that you... respect is an important thing in footy.

"It's the nature of the game, you rip into each other and then you socialise after."

Hansen said too much has been made of what he said six months ago.

"I never said he was Mickey Mouse. What I said was in a throwaway line, or something said in jest after an interviewer said to me Mark Ella thinks Mickey Mouse could coach the All Blacks because they have got so much talent," the 60-year-old stated on Thursday.

"And I just said, 'Well he can't because he's in Australia, coaching Australia'. So you can make a big thing out of it if you want, or you can take it for what it was. Something in jest.

"I have got plenty of respect for what Michael has done. End of story, really."

Jordie Barrett has renewed his contract with New Zealand Rugby, agreeing to stay with the Hurricanes despite brother Beauden's departure.

Barrett has committed to the All Blacks until 2022 and will remain with the Hurricanes, for whom he debuted in Super Rugby in 2017.

The 22-year-old has earned 10 caps for New Zealand, playing alongside siblings Beauden and Scott.

He will not count two-time World Rugby Player of the Year Beauden as a club colleague in 2020, though, with the superstar first five-eighth set for a break after the Rugby World Cup before joining the Blues.

While Jordie will remain with the Hurricanes for the time being, his new deal contains the option to switch Super Rugby clubs after next year, according to Monday's All-Blacks statement.

Jordie Barrett said: "There is a really good mix of youth as well as experienced leaders in the Hurricanes squad and I feel like this is the best place to develop my game.

"Staying in New Zealand rugby is really important to me. I'm enjoying playing alongside my mates and I've got further aspirations and goals I want to reach while I'm playing in New Zealand."

Soon-to-depart All Blacks coach Steve Hansen added: "Congratulations to Jordie on his decision to re-sign with New Zealand Rugby.

"He's an outstanding, talented young player who has soaked up everything he can in the All Blacks environment and grabbed every opportunity with both hands.

"He has a big future in the game and we look forward to seeing his career grow over the next few years."

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen believes there is a "good possibility" Brodie Retallick will be fit for the Rugby World Cup despite the lock dislocating his shoulder on Saturday.

Retallick came off in the second half of New Zealand's 16-16 draw against South Africa in the Rugby Championship.

It sparked fears Retallick could miss the World Cup, which begins in Japan in September, but Hansen was more optimistic on Sunday.

"He's only dislocated it, which means that there's a good possibility he could make the World Cup," a relieved Hansen told a news conference.

"No timeline yet to when he's going to return to play, but hopefully he'll be available to go to the World Cup."

The All Blacks are in Pool B for the World Cup, alongside the Springboks, Italy, Namibia and Canada.

Brodie Retallick suffered a dislocated shoulder during New Zealand's Rugby Championship draw with South Africa, Steve Hansen has confirmed.

The second-rower was hurt during a ruck midway through the second half of the game in Wellington on Saturday and left the field in obvious discomfort with an injury to his left arm.

The All Blacks were leading at the time of his departure but a last-gasp Herschel Jantjies try, converted by Handre Pollard, saw the Springboks rally to draw level at 16-16 by the end of the game.

All Blacks boss Hansen confirmed the severity of the injury in his post-match press conference, leaving Retallick facing a fight to recover in time for the Rugby World Cup later this year.

"He's dislocated his shoulder," Hansen said. "Whether he's fractured it as well, we don't know. We just have to sit and wait."

The 28-year-old Retallick is widely considered one of the best players at his position and was part of New Zealand's successful squad at the 2015 World Cup.

This year's tournament begins on September 20, with the reigning champions opening their Pool B campaign against the Springboks the following day.

Hansen will wait for a further update on Retallick but was pleased with the performance from his much-changed team, insisting there was no need to panic despite surrendering the lead so late on in proceedings.

"We've chosen over the last couple of weeks to name two different sides. We haven't had much preparation time," Hansen said.

"We knew due to some of the stuff we were introducing we would be a little off. But there were enough signs there to suggest if we keep working away and get our timing better and get our execution better we will be able to hurt some teams.

"We're not going to panic. We're going to take a deep breath and keep moving."

Steve Hansen says beating South Africa on Saturday would be a tonic for New Zealand but he does not anticipate the outcome having any bearing on their Rugby World Cup showdown in September.

The All Blacks started the defence of their Rugby Championship title with a narrow victory over Argentina last weekend, while the Springboks were too good for Australia.

Both victories were secured with understrength sides but rested players are set to return for a showdown at Westpac Stadium, where South Africa triumphed 36-34 in last year's competition.

New Zealand head coach Hansen is relishing the encounter in Wellington but says it will not have an impact on their World Cup Pool B blockbuster in Yokohama on September 21.

"The tradition is really important. We enjoy their company, we think a lot of them, we respect them very much," said Hansen. 

"We love the way they play and we love the challenge they bring to us. From that point of view, it is a really important encounter. It's the next one so it's obviously really, really important.

"In the big scheme of this year does the result matter? I guess it gives whoever wins it a little bit of confidence going into the World Cup. It won't mean whoever wins this one will automatically win the one in the World Cup.

"Even then whoever wins that game doesn't mean the other team is knocked out of the World Cup either because it is the round-robin stage and you'd expect both teams to go through and qualify.

"In the big scheme it gives everybody an opportunity to have a look at each other and feel each other out but I don't think it's going to affect the World Cup."

Steve Hansen said New Zealand's hard-fought Rugby Championship win over Argentina gives them "a little bit more money in the bank" having triumphed without so many key men.

Captain Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Joe Moody and Codie Taylor were among the All Blacks to be rested for their opening game of the tournament on Saturday.

The understrength world champions had to dig deep to edge a 20-16 victory over the Pumas, secured courtesy of tries from Ngani Laumape and Brodie Retallick, along with 10 points from the boot of Beauden Barrett.

Head coach Hansen was relieved that his selection gamble paid off ahead of a showdown with South Africa in Wellington next Saturday.

"If you look at the Crusaders not being here [in Buenos Aires] It's a minimum of probably 400 Test caps, but we knew that," Hansen said.

"That's why we talked earlier in the week about risk and reward."

Hansen added: "At times we were rusty, but we did a lot of good things.

"One of the greatest things we did was at the end with all the young fellows on we showed a lot of mental fortitude. So really pleased with that.

"To get away with the win is a little bit more money in the bank."

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett has agreed to leave the Hurricanes for the Blues in a blockbuster move after signing a new deal with New Zealand Rugby (NZR).

Barrett – a two-time World Rugby Player of the Year has – penned a four-year contract to keep him in New Zealand through to the end of the 2023 World Cup.

But the 28-year-old and 73-cap New Zealand international will represent the Blues at club level from 2020, leaving Super Rugby rivals the Hurricanes, where he broke through in 2011.

The complex new contract will see first five-eighth Barrett join the Blues midway through the 2020 season, however, as he takes an extended break from rugby at the end of this year.

And Barrett has the option to take a "short playing break" in Japan at some point during the next four years.

"This is obviously a massive decision for me and my wife Hannah and we're really looking forward to the next chapter of our lives," Barrett said.

"The Hurricanes will always be a huge part of who I am. The Hurricanes environment and style of rugby they play has helped me become the player I am today, and I'll be leaving some very good mates.

"Wellington has been my rugby base for many years and university base for Hannah and we'll always have fond memories of living there. Home for us now is Taranaki and Auckland and home and family are immensely important to both of us.

"I'm also enthusiastic about the new challenge I'll get with the Blues over the next four years. They're a team on the rise, I like the way they play and I'm really looking forward to being a part of that.

"While I'm looking forward to what the future holds, right now my focus is on the international season ahead with the All Blacks."

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, who will leave his role after the 2019 World Cup in Japan, added: "It's fantastic news for the All Blacks and obviously for the Blues as well. We congratulate Beaudy and his wife Hannah on his decision to stay in New Zealand.

"He's one of the best players in the world, a leader in our team and has been involved in numerous successful campaigns, from Rugby World Cups to Bledisloe Cups, and I believe he's going to get even better.

"Knowing he will be here through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup is massive for the All Blacks as they move into a new phase post-2019."

Blues chief executive Michael Redman, meanwhile, said: "Signing a player of Beauden's calibre has been years in the making.

"While Beauden's personal circumstances created this opportunity, changes we've made to our club in recent years meant for the first time the Blues were a credible option for him. The process has been long and complex, but we believe the outcome is the most influential player movement in Super Rugby history."

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