All Blacks expecting Japan to be a handful

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Lynn McConnell     29 Oct 2018     Getty Images

Japan had been fast out of the blocks in their game against the World XV at the weekend and while they had been disjointed initially, they never gave the game away and would be massively better for having had that game and the time together, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.

"They are going to be a good challenge," he said.

The important point for the new players coming into the side to play Japan would be to not overload them with information so they had the right instincts to play and the preparation would be a week in which less was more.

The side named for the Test would still be a very good All Blacks team, Hansen said.

Hansen said the Yokohama visit had ticked several boxes for the side. It had been satisfying to get a 3-0 series sweep; the accommodation, venue, traffic and stadium had all been well tested while they had got players back on the pitch with a view to their getting more mileage into them over the next few weeks.

"Physically and mentally we're in the best shape we have been in for a number of years," he said.

That was down to being able to stage the Australia game a week later than usual which gave players time to recover from the South Africa-Argentina trip," he said.

There was also anticipation about the big two Tests coming up against England and Ireland.

They would each have different approaches. 

"The pleasing thing about yesterday was we were a lot more controlled about how we played and still managed to score a number of tries. If we're patient and work our way round the park rather than try to charge our way round without earning the right to, then I think we'll be ok," he said.

The 23 players who will leave the group to travel to England to prepare for the November 10 Test will be named later in the week and would be involved in helping to prepare the players who will meet Japan on Saturday before they depart.

While adhering to the policy of taking one Test at a time, Hansen said England were a good team and while they had players out with injury, that was the same for all teams.

That allowed him to restress the point about the need for a global season and consideration for player welfare and the need for players all around the world to have 16 weeks between their last game of a season and their next game.

"That's what's missing. Currently they don't get enough of a break," he said.

It wasn't possible for players to keep going around and around. England had suffered from the British & Irish Lions tour and it wasn't only just one season, it was several.