CHICAGO, Nov 6 — New Zealand coach Steve Hansen refused to blame the All Blacks' injury crisis after his side crashed to a stunning first ever defeat to Ireland here yesterday.
The New Zealanders had gone into the game with locks Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano all unavailable, a weakness that Ireland exploited mercilessly on their way to a historic 40-29 win at Soldier Field.
“People will say 'Ah, but you didn't have your two locks,'” Hansen said. “But we haven't got any excuses — we just got beaten by a better side on the day.
“And that happens when you play good sides. We've been saying for quite some time that Ireland are a good team.”
All Black skipper Kieran Read said the New Zealanders, who only last month had won a record 18th consecutive game, had been unable to summon the right mental approach.
“We just didn't come out with the right attitude,” Read said.
“We allowed Ireland to be dominant in that first half. There's a few lessons we've got to learn.
“They came out with a lot of emotion and played very smartly and won a lot of the loose ball. We just weren't able to get into the game. They came out and beat us in the key areas.”
Read, however, is looking forward to the chance to avenge the loss when the sides meet again in Dublin on November 19.
“It's nice when you have had a loss to get back on the horse against that opposition,” Read said.
“We'll look at this game and see where we can get better.”
Hansen said the world champions would study the lessons from a “painful” defeat as they head into the European leg of their tour, which opens against Italy in Rome next Saturday.
“Whilst it's painful to lose and we don't like doing it, inevitably it was going to happen sooner or later,” Hansen said.
“The key now is that we learn all the lessons out of this game so that the loss is not wasted.”
Hansen, meanwhile, refused to condemn the first half sin-binning of prop Joe Moody. Moody's exit for a reckless tip tackle on Robbie Henshaw led to a 10-minute period in which Ireland scored 12 unanswered points, giving them a vital buffer zone which ultimately proved the difference.
“Not a lot was said to the player,” Hansen said.
“He knows that he's transgressed,” the coach added, describing Moody's tackle as a borderline violation.
“It's a difficult one, looking at it. It's marginal. But because of the rules the way they are, even if its marginal, you're yellow carded.
“I don't think it was intentional at all. There's no point sweating over that. We didn't deal with it as well as we should have.” — AFP