Brodie Retallick of New Zealand is tackled by Michael Hooper of Australia during their Bledisloe Cup clash in October.
Brodie Retallick of New Zealand is tackled by Michael Hooper of Australia during their Bledisloe Cup clash in October. DAVID ROWLAND

Hansen admits Cubs hype might have distracted All Blacks

RUGBY UNION: Coach Steve Hansen believes that some All Blacks might have been distracted ahead of the loss to Ireland in Chicago.

Hansen has restored most of the players from the shock defeat to the side for Sunday morning's rematch in Dublin.

Locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock return from injuries to bolster the pack, Liam Squire earns a seventh Test start at flanker with Jerome Kaino injured, and Anton Lienert-Brown and Israel Dagg come into the backline after missing the Chicago Test.

Hansen said it was a possibility that some players in Chicago were more concerned with other things.

"(The players were) spending a lot of time worrying about what the Cubs were doing,” Hansen said.

"There were five million people at the parade and most of our blokes were there. I don't know if it was or if it wasn't (a contributing factor). Is that what they normally do on a Friday before a Test match? No, and you can get caught up in that stuff.

"I am saying it is a possibility that comes into it. Only the individual will be able to tell you that.”

Hansen said the Chicago defeat was a shock for a number of players, some of whom had never lost before as All Blacks.

"There's a few people who are angry and disappointed in their performances. This group hasn't lost very often - some of them have never lost - and they don't know what it feels like until it happens and when it does, it is a shock to the system.

"I guess it is the same when we all get a bit of a shake-up. You come back to work the next day and you are a little bit sharper in your thought processes and you are a bit more honest about how you go around doing your job.

"There is no complacency because there is no room for it. We are playing a team that has shown they are good enough to beat us if we don't show up and play well. There is now an air of we have to really front up and that is not a bad thing.”

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has made just one change to his starting 15 that beat the All Blacks in Chicago, with fit-again flanker Sean O'Brien returning to the openside.

NZ HERALD


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