Steve Hansen praises knockout experience after World Cup quarter-final victory
Last Updated: 19/10/19 5:14pm
Steve Hansen praised his players' experience of knockout rugby as New Zealand emphatically booked their place in the semi-finals of Rugby World Cup 2019
The head coach's players have not lost a match in the competition since 2007 and produced an stunning 80 minutes of rugby to see-off Ireland by 46-14 in Tokyo.
The outfit's first try came in the 11th minute and they never looked back from that. After, Hansen was quick to praise his players' attitude and approach.
"Experience is a funny thing, isn't it? Our young guys have been involved in championship-winning teams in Super Rugby, in big moments, and that's why you can select them with confidence," said the head coach.
"Their enthusiasm, excitement and ability to play in the form they're in is important and so is the leadership and experience of the guys who have been through the tough moments in knockout rugby."
With his counterpart taking charge of Ireland for the last time in Tokyo, and captain Rory Best retiring, Hansen also took a moment to praise both of their contributions over the years.
"I'd really like the opportunity on behalf of myself and the All Blacks to congratulate two men in the opposition - Rory Best and Joe Schmidt," he said. "Both have had magnificent careers in their respective roles for Ireland.
"They've made a difference in their time. Both those guys, I understand, are finishing up and we'd like to acknowledge them publicly for what a wonderful job they've done."
Hansen then turned the focus onto his own captain Kieran Read and spoke extremely highly of the way in which the No 8 performed and led the defending champions on the day.
"The next thing I'd like to acknowledge publicly is the big fella alongside me here [Read]. He's come back from a back injury, copped a lot of flak from people about his form but as that injury's got better, so has his play.
"It's not just that, he's led the team really well and I think he's even gone to a higher level at the World Cup.
"Our attack has gone to a new level and he [Ian Foster] s coaching the best I've seen. Scott McLeod is doing a fantastic job with the defence and my old mate Crono [Mike Cron] is certainly doing a great job with the forwards. We wouldn't have a team without these four people so I'd like to thank them."
New Zealand's impressive quarter-final performance sees them create a mouth-watering last four encounter with Eddie Jones' England.
England are approaching the clash off the back of their own emphatic quarter-final victory - punishing Australia 40-16 in Oita - and Hansen shared Jones' love for the encounter.
"I'm looking forward to playing them too now we've earned the right. They'll be a massive challenge but I don't think tonight's the night for us to be talking about that.
"We'll enjoy our moment, it was a special Test match, one that the All Blacks, New Zealanders and the players can be proud of. We won't think about England until tomorrow. They're not even on my mind."