Steve Hansen hoping pressure on All Blacks is a challenge, not a burden | Andy Bull

All Blacks coach expects a tight game and says rebuilding his team after the retirement of so many great players has been harder than people think

It has been a long while since the All Blacks lost in Auckland. Two decades, three years and three days, to be exact. But then, as Sam Whitelock said on Tuesday, “we shouldn’t have to lose to learn”, and in among all those victories, one seems particularly instructive right now.

It is the most famous of the lot, the 2011 World Cup final against France. A game a lot of New Zealanders assumed they would breeze through but which, in the end, turned out as close as they come, settled by a single point, 8-7. That match was a different order of magnitude again to the one being played on Saturday. But still, the third Test against the British & Irish Lions is, everyone agrees, the biggest that has been played in New Zealand since. “It definitely has that feel,” Jerome Kaino said, when he was asked how it compared to the World Cup final.

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