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'What is it they've experienced? Ireland's experience was not to win' - Hansen

The All Blacks boss pointed out that his team had experience of winning World Cup knock-out games.

BEFORE WE GO any further, it’s worth saying that Steve Hansen’s first act in his post-match press conference was to congratulate Joe Schmidt and Rory Best on their “magnificent” careers with Ireland.

Unfortunately for Best and Schmidt, those Ireland careers finished in the most miserable fashion at Tokyo Stadium as they were hammered by New Zealand in the World Cup quarter-finals. 

It was a sad end to what has been an otherwise highly-successful time in charge for Schmidt, who had backed his most tried-and-trusted players and combinations to deliver with the odds against them versus the All Blacks.

rory-best-with-steve-hansen-after-the-game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Kiwis’ selections of relatively inexperienced players like Sevu Reece, George Bridge, and Jack Goodhue alongside some stalwarts had made headlines, but each of them delivered in stunning fashion as Hansen’s side swept past Ireland into a semi-final against England.

Asked what those players have brought to this New Zealand set-up, when Ireland had opted for their most experienced team, Hansen delivered a fascinating answer.

“Experience is a funny thing,” said Hansen. “What is it they’ve experienced? That’s the test.

“A lot of our guys have been involved in championship-winning teams in Super Rugby, big moments, and that’s why you select them. They have played well in Test matches too.

“Their enthusiasm, excitement, and ability to play the game in a formula is really important, but so is the leadership and experience of the guys who have been through the tough moments 

“It was interesting, everyone was talking about how many [experienced players] Ireland had – but half of our 23 had played in [World Cup] a knock-out match and won it.

“And that was the difference wasn’t it? I don’t mean any disrespect in saying this but Ireland’s experience was not to win.

“We had 11 guys with experience of actually winning. That’s why you’ve got to be careful when you talk about experience.

“Just because you’ve played for a long time, you might have learned things you don’t want to learn or you might have learned nothing along the way.”

robbie-henshaw-dejected-after-the-game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Hansen lauded his highly-experienced captain Kieran Read, who led the team with a sensational performance from number eight and answered the criticism he has faced this year in a convincing manner.

The Kiwis now march on to face England in the semi-finals, with Eddie Jones having said he would look forward to facing the tournament favourites after his side’s win over Australia today.

“I’m looking forward to playing them too,” said Hansen.  They’ll be a massive challenge,

“We’ve got a formula we work to, Test matches are hard work from Sunday to Saturday.

“We’ll take a wee bit of time to step off the merry-go-round and relax. We’ll do that and enjoy our moment. This is a special moment that the All Blacks and New Zealand can be proud of.

“And we won’t think about England until tomorrow.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from Tokyo Stadium

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