Steve Hansen: "They're already telling us that they know we're not invincible"

New Zealand face Ireland in Chicago tomorrow

Steve Hansen: "They're already telling us that they know we're not invincible"

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New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen is expecting a tough match against Ireland in Chicago as his side look to increase their winning streak to nineteen matches.

The world champions are without three first choice second-rows with Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano unavailable for selection for various reasons.

This has led to flanker Jerome Kaino being picked to start at lock alongside Patrick Tuipulotu. At 127 Kg, Tuipulotu is a monstrous specimen and capable of doing some serious damage around the field.

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald about the shortage of locks available this weekend and Kaino's relatively limited knowledge of the position, he said: "With Jerome coming in, he's comfortable there, I don't feel that way. I am the kid who grew up idolising him and I still do now. The way he plays, I feed off what he does. I don't feel like I am the senior lock with Jerome. I still look up to him."

"Come game time I know that excitement level will be where it needs to be. Normally it is me and the other locks trying to push the other two senior locks and help them, but this week it was about me having to get my mind right and keep [my emotions] at a level where I could train properly."

Speaking ahead of the clash, New Zealand head coach Hansen said: "They're already telling us that they know we are not invincible which is a sure sign that they're confident, we're playing on neutral ground and they get two cracks at us."

"We've got to go and make sure we turn up. If we turn up then we give ourselves a chance because we're a pretty talented team. But if we become five percent under that and they turn up she'll be a hard night at the office," he added.