Hansen fears tries may dry up

Steve Hansen (Gallo Images)
Steve Hansen (Gallo Images)

London - Steve Hansen says he hopes his New Zealand team and rivals Australia can turn on the style in Saturday's Rugby World Cup final but accepts that the suffocating pressure could turn off the try tap.

Both teams have been prolific try-scorers throughout this tournament but history suggests a change on Saturday. The last six finals have produced a total of seven tries, with only Australia in 1999 scoring more than one.

"You've got two sides who are like-minded and want to play footy," Hansen said on Friday after his team's final run out at Twickenham.

"The pressure will be on but that won't inhibit either one of them. Time has shown us that we'll play to our own strengths.

"If the conditions are OK I think we'll see some running rugby but whether that results in tries comes down to the defence."

For all the sparkling backline play and eye-catching work by the loose forwards, Hansen said the key to the game would be the front five.

"Rugby hasn't changed that much," he said. "The back row can only operate if the front five do their job. The game is won in the tight five and whoever does that tomorrow will probably have the easier ride."

New Zealand have advanced to the final with barely a missed step, despite the best efforts of South Africa in the semi-finals, but Hansen said he felt there was more to come from his side.

"We're always looking to improve so we haven't seen the best yet," he said.

"The opposition has a lot to say about that but we've had a good week and built day by day.

"Win or lose we'll put in a performance we can be proud of. If it's not enough we'll go away and see what we can do better. The group is in a good place and excited about what's coming."

The laconic coach said he would have no trouble relaxing on Friday night and would catch some TV: "There are a few good westerns on," he said.

Flyhalf Dan Carter said he too would be able to switch off, despite the game being the 112th, last and most important of his illustrious test career.

"I'm a huge believer in having balance in your life and your week," said the flyhalf.

"So you're switched on on the paddock but in free time the last thing you want to be thinking about is the game."

Asked if he had mentally prepared for a potential goal kick to win the match on Saturday, he said: "No, not really. I won a few World Cups in my back yard when I was five or six-years-old but this week I've just gone about my usual routine and that's the beauty of having it set in stone.

"It's the same whether I'm taking a kick in training or to win the World Cup."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
42% - 9023 votes
11% - 2344 votes
19% - 4122 votes
2% - 531 votes
1% - 191 votes
2% - 501 votes
5% - 1052 votes
9% - 1829 votes
3% - 732 votes
Water sports
1% - 198 votes
American sports
1% - 269 votes
3% - 686 votes