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Hansen expecting confrontational Lions

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/02/2017

New Zealand's Steve Hansen © AAP Image/SNPA/Dianne Manson New Zealand's Steve Hansen Big, physical forwards and accurate goalkicking.

That's the formula All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is expecting from this year's British and Irish Lions.

After watching the first three rounds of the Six Nations, Hansen isn't swaying from his belief the tourists will take a "confrontational" approach to their 10-game, three-Test tour in June and July.

Hansen told RadioLive his Lions counterpart Warren Gatland has never advocated pretty rugby and wouldn't start doing so now.

"He likes to be pretty confrontational, and there will be a lot of physicalness in it, a lot of kicking and a territorial game, penalties and (they will) look for shots at goal," Hansen said.

"They have got great goal-kickers in their five-eighths; Jonathan Sexton, Dan Biggar, George Ford and Owen Farrell all kick great and then you have got Leigh Halfpenny."

Hansen said the All Blacks, like any team, were vulnerable when put under pressure.

He had no doubt Gatland would take plenty from New Zealand's 40-29 loss to Ireland in Chicago last November - the world champions' only setback in their last 22 Tests.

"They (Ireland) scored plenty of tries there in the end because we imploded on ourselves under that pressure," Hansen said.

"That pressure - if we allow it to build, don't play smart ourselves and look to vary our games - we will play into their hands."

Hansen was impressed by the even nature of the Six Nations. He cited Scotland's wins over Ireland and Wales as evidence that Gatland would have plenty of options to choose from.

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