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Bledisloe Cup: Australia v New Zealand
McKenzie won't outsmart us, say All Blacks
August 16, 2013
Steve Hansen has not missed after taking aim at Ewen McKenzie © Getty Images

"Ewen's telling them they're going to outsmart us and they're going to play this sneaky, smart game. The reality is he's going to play a little bit like Queensland and mix a wee bit of the Brumbies' defence in it." Steve Hansen takes aim at Ewen McKenzie

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says Wallabies counterpart Ewen McKenzie is wasting his time in trying to outfox him as the barbs continue ahead of the Rugby Championship-opening Bledisloe Cup Test at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Hansen arrived in Australia with his patched-up All Blacks squad on Thursday, when he wasted little time in firing another psychological shot at the Wallabies' new mentor.

The pair spent Thursday trading verbal volleys, with Hansen claiming McKenzie was feeling the heat and the Australian responding by saying any coach of the All Blacks was under pressure not to crash the New Zealand economy with a despairing defeat.

McKenzie's decision to delay naming his team until Thursday afternoon, after the All Blacks had boarded their flight from New Zealand, triggered the exchanges.

"It doesn't bother me a hoot who they play," Hansen said before flying out.

McKenzie readily admitted after naming uncapped rookie Matt Toomua at five-eighth, ahead of his Queensland Reds favourite Quade Cooper, that he had deliberately delayed his team announcement to keep the All Blacks guessing. "I was in no hurry to tell them what the team was," he said.

Hansen was still chirping when he touched down in Sydney on Thursday night.

Ewen Mckenzie backs Matt Toomua to shine

"Ewen's telling them they're going to outsmart us and they're going to play this sneaky, smart game," Hansen said. "The reality is he's going to play a little bit like Queensland and mix a wee bit of the Brumbies' defence in it. We just have to prepare well for that and we've done that."

The world champions' preparations, though, have been disrupted by the loss of Dan Carter with a calf injury and Liam Messam with a hamstring strain.

Messam, the Man of the Match in the Chiefs' Super Rugby final win over the Brumbies, has been replaced by Blues newcomer Steven Luatua, with Chiefs playmaker Aaron Cruden stepping in for Carter. McKenzie said the All Blacks would feel the loss of Messam, but Hansen shrugged off his unavailability.

"It's just one of those things," Hansen said. "You've just got to roll with the punches. Steven's been preparing to play all week. He'll be fine. He fitted into the last part of training good. We're very confident that he'll do a great job."

Toomua said Cruden's dangerous running game would compensate for the loss of Carter's experience and trusty left boot. "DC went out early in the week. That was disappointing but 'Cruds' has come in and trained well. We have a mantra within the group that everyone prepares to play."

Hansen said Australia's line-up, despite eight changes from the Wallabies side that lost the series-deciding Test to the British & Irish Lions last month, was "pretty predictable" and declared Toomua "a good player".

"If you get an Aussie player, you've got to be a good player," he said. "The way they've been talking, they want to play footy."


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