The All Blacks have begun their end of year northern hemisphere tour with a win against the Wallabies in the third Bledisloe Cup match in Yokohama before taking on Japan in Tokyo this weekend and then travelling west to take on England, Ireland and Italy.
It’s a gruelling schedule at the end of a long season and Steve Hansen has already spoken out about player welfare and the need for more rest periods.
After that win over the Wallabies, Hansen was also asked by an Irish journalist in attendance about the prospect of facing Ireland without Conor Murray.
Bizarrely, Hansen replied in an Irish accent where he posed the question whether it was a “trick” by the Irish management in omitting Murray.
“I’m not sure about that, I don’t know if Conor is going to be out or if it’s an Irish trick or is it for true?” Hansen said tongue-in-cheek.
Hansen then put his serious cap on and admitted he would be a huge loss for Ireland but that it would be a great opportunity for one of Kieran Marmion, John Cooney or Luke McGrath to step in.
“Conor is a great player and it’s really disappointing for both Ireland and us that he’s not playing,” Hansen continued.
“When you play quality teams, you want all their players to be there. It’s called a Test match for a reason and it’s about testing yourself.
“They’ll miss him but what a wonderful opportunity for someone else to step up and play well for Ireland. I’m sure whoever that is that’s given the opportunity will do their best to do that.”
You can see Hansen’s answer below: