All Blacks ignore ‘best ever’ hype at World Cup

New Zealand All Blacks' head coach Steve Hansen. Photo: AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS
New Zealand All Blacks' head coach Steve Hansen. Photo: AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS

THE All Blacks were simply brilliant against France last weekend, but coach Steve Hansen has told his players to take no notice of the hype ahead of tonight's semi-final against South Africa (1am AEST).

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer has been lavish in his praise of the New Zealanders all week, describing them as "the best team to ever play the game".

Hansen said he wasn't falling for that old trick, suggesting his counterpart was clearly playing mind games.

"He's a cunning wee devil is Heyneke," Hansen said. "He's been praising us all week and whilst I know he means some of it, at the same time they are getting ready to rip our heads off, and we need to be in that same state."

While he has done his best to keep his team grounded, the coach admitted the excitement generated by the 62-13 thrashing of the French had not been helpful.

"The hardest thing this week in preparation is coming off the back of such a great win, because externally everybody has got a little carried away with themselves and ... have made some outrageous statements," Hansen said.

"Internally, there's an emotional high that comes from playing like that and it's really important to get a full stop as early as possible.

"You've got to enjoy that moment - you can't hide from it, but you've got to put a full stop on it otherwise you don't go great-to-great, you go great-to-struggling."

Hansen has made just one change for the game against South Africa, naming prop Joe Moody to replace regular starter Wyatt Crockett (groin). Ben Franks will start on the bench as cover.

South Africa has named an unchanged starting line-up from the team that came-from-behind to beat Wales 23-19 in the quarter-finals. However, veteran lock Victor Matfield has returned to the bench after recovering from a hamstring strain.
- with APNZ