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The love-in would never last – it simply couldn’t. With Eddie Jones and Steve Hansen set to do battle through England and New Zealand, in the heat of a Rugby World Cup semi-final, you just knew that the week somehow would come to life.
The niceties threatened to continue when Hansen threw no punches in Tuesday’s press conference. “Eddie will decide whether he wants to go there and I’ve already decided what I want to do,” said the All Blacks coach.
But some nine miles east of New Zealand’s team hotel, Jones was getting ready to let loose. Allegations of spying, jibes to the Kiwi media, claims that the pressure is all on the reigning world champions, and all said with a smile on the face of the Australia. Jones knew exactly what he was doing, but then again so does Hansen.
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The pair started the week by trading texts – not exactly what fierce rivals would be expected to do. The pair are good mates and regularly talk when not in the hotbed of a World Cup campaign, which is perhaps why they are looking forward to Saturday’s encounter so much. Jones started the week off on Sunday by hailing the All Blacks as the greatest team not just in rugby, but in world sport, hailing their win ratio of close to 90 per cent as untouchable by any other team on the planet.
“It’s a really nice statement and I wouldn’t think that Eddie believes that but he is also being quite kind to us,” Hansen said. “History is history and it is about creating new history and both teams are going to go at each other on Saturday, and that game won’t define either team but it will give one team the opportunity to go through to play a final. That’s where everyone’s concentration is. I just know that there is a lot of respect between the two teams and the two coaches.”
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