AB’s seek secret to defending World Cup

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iol spt apr12 Sam Cane Getty Images Head coach Steve Hansen says the All Blacks are determined to figure out why no team has defended rugby's World Cup before they put their title on the line at next year's tournament. Photo by: Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

Wellington, New Zealand – Head coach Steve Hansen says the All Blacks are determined to figure out why no team has defended rugby's World Cup before they put their title on the line at next year's tournament in Britain.

Hansen told reporters Friday the New Zealand coaching staff and management are working hard to understand why none of the teams that has won the Webb Ellis Trophy at the past seven World Cups has managed to retain it at a subsequent tournament.

The selection and preparation of the All Blacks team would then be geared to ensuring they did not fall into traps that had captured previous champions and other New Zealand sides, Hansen said. New Zealand is first determined to ensure it retains the form and sense of purpose which allowed it to win the Cup in 2011.

“There are a few inconvenient facts around the Rugby World Cup in that nobody has won two in a row, so we are having a good look at the reasons why that is and what we can do to possibly change that and start implementing some of those things now,” Hansen said. “When you are a team that's been at the top for a long time you don't have the mental attitude quite right and there is an expectation that 'we will go and do this.' I think New Zealand's fallen into that trap at previous World Cups.”

New Zealand became the first team in the professional era to go unbeaten through an international season when it won all 14 of its test matches in 2013. Hansen said the challenge for the All Blacks coaches was to ensure that didn't lead to any complacency or slackening of effort heading into the World Cup.

“When you've had success sometimes it's hard for certain people to replicate the sacrifices needed to go and do that,” he said. “We've got to make the challenge so exciting and so big that people want to make the same sacrifice they made in 2011 when we would've done anything to win the thing.

“I don't know if you need new blood necessarily. But you need people there who will do whatever it takes.”

Hansen said New Zealand's three-test series against England in June would be an important test of its current form and attitude.

“We know England are better than us at some things, the same in other things and worse in other areas,” he said. “They'll be a big challenge and we need to get our game right. We can't let our minds drift off (to the World Cup) and expect it to happen. We will have to take the game to the English.” – Sapa-AP


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