New Zealand demand more from their players

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The Independent Online

New Zealand assistant coach Steve Hansen has warned his side there must be no let-up in their intensity levels when they face South Africa again at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.

The All Blacks stunned the defending Tri Nations champions with a fantastic display in the opening game of the tournament in Auckland, winning 32-12 at Eden Park as they outscored the world champions by four tries to nil.

The hosts admitted that their unprecedented 3-0 whitewash at the hands of the Springboks during last season's competition had served as extra motivation ahead of the opener, and Hansen expects to see more of the same from his charges this weekend.

"It's now about applying pressure to ourselves and to make sure the expectations and the scrutiny and the consequences during the training week are such that the edge is still in the game and the desire to play well and the hunger to perform at the highest level is still there," said Hansen.

"It's an individual thing. It's a collective mini unit and team thing where you can either be satisfied with one performance or look to repeat it over and over again.

"It's not just about what I do or what [coach] Graham [Henry] or [assistant coach] Wayne [Smith] does it's about what the individual does and what the team does.

"We've already heard from the South Africans that they think their level of performance was so poor because they didn't have their heads in the right space.

"We know they will be in the right space this weekend and we need to have ours there too."

South Africa are widely acknowledged as being the most physical side in Test rugby, and Hansen expects them to hit back hard in the New Zealand capital.

But he does not want his side to get too caught up in that aspect of the game, and has called for them to keep a cool head and show the clinical edge that served them so well in Auckland.

"I think it will be a very physical Test as they always are between South Africa and New Zealand," he said.

"You've got the two best sides in the world playing and with that comes a lot of pressure and how you deal with that pressure is important.

"If you allow it to get maybe too aggressive then you're going to get penalised and we saw that last week.

"It's about controlling the things you have to do and combating the threats that come from the opposition. I don't think it's about the niggle.

"Every coach talks about discipline. You don't want to give away silly penalties. You don't want people in the sinbin and you don't want people sent off.

"Every coach talks about that whether it's the All Blacks or the Under-10s.

"But particularly when you're playing South Africa because you've got a guy who can kick goals from all over the park. We'd be stupid if we didn't talk about it."

Head coach Henry had recently aired his concerns that referees were beginning to struggle to keep up with the pace of Test rugby since the International Rugby Board brought in a new interpretation of the rules governing the breakdown.

But Hansen believes Ireland's Allan Rolland, will be more than up to the task this weekend.

He said: "I think to clarify what Graham was saying, the speed of the game is something that's got quicker and quicker over the years and the one thing we haven't changed in refereeing is lessening their load and decision-making.

"I don't think he's having a plug at their fitness I just think the speed of the game is totally different to where it's been in the past and seems to be getting faster and faster all the time.

"There has been talk in the past about two referees and doing it differently. They are things that are out of our control.

"I think Alain Rolland is probably the number one referee in the world at the moment. If he's not number one he's there or thereabouts. With those types of referees you get consistent decision-making and that's all we can ask."