TOKYO – Steve Hansen is primarily focused on New Zealand's second World Cup match against Canada but the All Blacks coach has also been keeping an eye on the other title contenders and has been impressed by some of the Northern Hemisphere sides.
Southern hemisphere powers New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina locked up the semi-final spots at the 2015 World Cup but there has been a rugby renaissance north of the equator over the last four years.
Ireland made a highly impressive start against Scotland on Sunday while England and Wales barely needed to get out of first gear to beat Tonga and Georgia in their openers.
"We all know that they're in good shape, don't we?" Hansen told reporters in Oita on Tuesday.
"They're playing well, they've got a good thing going up in the Northern Hemisphere where they're competing against each other and are striving to raise the bar all the time.