Hansen: Well, thanks for the 'compliments' Eddie
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: New Zealand have no qualms accepting "compliments" from England coach Eddie Jones, the world champions head coach Steve Hansen said.
Jones's men, who are not due to play the All Blacks again until November next year, are set to be one of the main challenges when New Zealand bid for a third successive global title at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
The England coach recently spoke of his admiration for the way New Zealand had developed while dominating this year's southern hemisphere Rugby Championship, noting, in particular, their increasing ease in playing a 'slow game' at a time when the rest of the world was trying to up the tempo.
The Australian added he had been compiling a dossier on the All Blacks following their drawn Test series with the British and Irish Lions earlier this year.
Jones is not adverse to trying to unsettle opponents with some well-chosen words, but Hansen took the latest comments of a "good coach" at face value.
"I can't say too much, but Eddie's on the ball though isn't he?" Hansen told a news conference ahead of their European tour opener against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.
"He's got a dossier on everything we're doing. Everyone's got dossiers, it just depends on what label you've got on them.
"We're trying to do things subtly differently, so we've got a more complete game."
England have lost just once since Jones took over after their first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup and Hansen said: "It's nice to get a compliment from Eddie.
"He's doing a good job with England, it's exciting for rugby.
"I know everyone's excited about playing them next year, as they are about playing us too," Hansen added, saying talk of 'mind games' by former Australia and Japan coach Jones was overdone.
"I don't think any human being should be concerned about getting a compliment; the hardest thing is taking it," Hansen said. "We'll take it, especially from Eddie, because he's a good coach."
Hansen asked to assess New Zealand's position two years out from a World Cup where they learnt Thursday that their first game will be against arch-rivals South Africa, replied: "We're coming along nicely...We probably haven't played our complete game, so you can't grow something if you don't look at it and try to grow it."
Jones had lobbied his employers at the Rugby Football Union to see if England, rather than the invitational Barbarians, could play New Zealand at the Red Rose brigade's Twickenham base this weekend.
But Hansen said there was never any doubt about changing opponents for a match marking the 125th anniversary of the New Zealand Rugby Union.
"We didn't decide to 'stick with it', let's get that straight," he replied in answer to a reporter's question.
"We signed a contract. And your word is your bond, isn't it?
"England didn't want to play us at that point; then they decided they wanted to," Hansen added.