Mind games start in build up to World Cup semi

By Jamie Wall

All Black coach Steve Hansen

Despite Steve Hansen’s assurances, the All Blacks and England have started the psychological warfare before their knockout semi final in Yokohama this weekend.

No sooner than Hansen had praised the English, across town rival coach Eddie Jones unloaded with an entertaining rant about pressure, spying and a not so subtle dig at the New Zealand media.

“This game won’t define either team, but it will give one a chance to go through to the final” said Hansen at the All Blacks’ hotel today.

“That’s where everyone’s attention is and I know there’s a lot of respect between the two teams.”

When asked about mind games, Hansen took the moral high ground.

“Mind games are a real thing, but sometimes you’re better not to bother going there and sometimes you are,” he said. 

“Eddie will decide whether he wants to go there and I’ve already decided what I want to do.”

Jones did not wait long, merely half an hour after the All Black press conference, accusing them of spying in a mischievous attack clearly designed to create a few headlines.

“There was definitely someone in the apartment block filming” Jones said in relation to the English training session on Tuesday, barely able to contain his trademark grin. The team is using the Shining Arcs facility in Urayasu, which is ringed with 15 storey buildings.

When asked if he would film the All Blacks, Jones said that “we’ve got someone there now, mate”.

He then accused the New Zealand media of bias towards the All Blacks, saying:

“Well someone has to ask them a question because the New Zealand media doesn’t,” said Jones. “You guys are just fans with a keyboard, someone has to ask them some questions.

Jones has long been known for his wind up tactics, so this is really nothing new. However, his England side are coming into Saturday’s game in a spot of very good form, having dispatched the Wallabies 40-16 in their quarter final.