Lancaster hits back at Hansen

2013-11-11 19:00
Stuart Lancaster (AFP)

London - England coach Stuart Lancaster kept his cool ahead of this coming Saturday's match against New Zealand after the world champions suggested last year's shock loss owed much to illness.

In the best result of Lancaster's reign, England beat the All Blacks by a record 38-21 at Twickenham in December last year.

However, several members of the New Zealand squad had been struck down with a virus earlier that week.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen refused to make any mention of illness immediately following the defeat, but he spoke about it following New Zealand's 26-19 win over France in Paris on Saturday.

"We didn't have enough energy to compete with the English.

"We're hoping we don't get a virus again," former Wales boss Hansen said.

However, Lancaster responded Monday by saying: "All I can control last year was our performance and I feel we performed well.

"It's a different New Zealand team we're facing this time.

"What happened last year is irrelevant," added Lancaster, whose England side will be looking to complete their 10th win in 11 matches on Saturday.

"I'm sure they (New Zealand) will be motivated to play this game, they have an outstanding record this season and will be keen to finish off this northern hemisphere tour with two wins (against England and Ireland)."

New Zealand have lost just once in 33 matches -- to England at Twickenham last year - since August 2011.

"It's an unbelievable record, not just over this season but since the last World Cup," an admiring Lancaster said of the All Blacks who, having won all 13 of their Tests so far in 2013, are eyeing a perfect record for the calendar year.

"There's certainly been no drop off in standards since the World Cup.

"If anything, they've gone up another level.

"They are rightfully number one in the world," Lancaster said.

Meanwhile England prop Mako Vunipola has been ruled out of facing the All Blacks with the same knee injury that saw him miss last weekend's 31-12 win over Argentina.

Joe Marler, his replacement against the Pumas, was concussed at Twickenham but could recover in time for the New Zealand match.

"Mako won't be playing.

"Joe's going through the mandatory recovery for concussion, but we're hoping he'll be OK," Lancaster said.

British and Irish Lions prop Alex Corbisiero is now in line to start against New Zealand with Marler offering cover off the bench if he is declared fit.

Meanwhile scrum-half Ben Youngs has been given a clean bill of health following a hip problem and Lancaster was optimistic wing Marland Yarde would recover from a hip injury of his own.

But Lancaster said wing Christian Wade was "unlikely" to get over a tight hamstring in time.

Both Lancaster and Hansen are due to name their teams on Thursday.

England's win last year was only their seventh in 35 Tests against New Zealand dating back more than a hundred years.

Read more on:    all blacks  |  stuart lancaster  |  rugby

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