Fit-again winger Mack Hansen insists Ireland are not in New Zealand “just to take part” but is happy for his side to be written off.
The All Blacks are strong favourites to clinch an early series victory ahead of Saturday’s second Test in Dunedin following a dominant 42-19 win last weekend in Auckland.
Connacht back Hansen has been recalled on the right flank in place of Keith Earls in the only change to Andy Farrell’s starting XV after recovering from Covid-19.
The 24-year-old, who believes there is greater pressure on Ian Foster’s hosts, says the Irish camp remains in high spirits as they once again go in search of a maiden success on New Zealand soil.
“I think everybody’s definitely written us off straight away,” he said. “We had a very good Six Nations and autumn Tests leading up to that, so people can say what they want to say.
“We know what we need to do to get a win and there’s a great feeling around the group so, if everybody wants to write us off, that’s great.
“We’re not here just to take part. We want to get a win over here and be the first team to do it.
“That’s always a nice thing to have on our shoulder, we’ve got nothing to lose really and New Zealand rarely lose over here so more pressure on them.”
Hansen said he is feeling “100 per cent and back to normal” following his bout of coronavirus and spell in isolation.
He was reduced to the role of spectator last weekend as a string of errors cost Ireland a chance of victory at Eden Park.
The Australia-born player accepts the team must minimise mistakes and be more clinical to keep the series alive.
“At the end of the day, it’s just what you can control,” he said. “All the errors, they feed off those so, if we can bring those down, it’s going to make for a lot closer game.
“I thought last week isn’t how we normally play and how we’ve been playing so plenty of work-ons but plenty of learnings.
“Our attack, I thought, was pretty good. You hear rarely about getting held up six times, it’s obviously just that last bit we have to work on but I think we showed that the attack is there. It’s just getting it down over the line.”
Saturday’s match will take place at Forsyth Barr Stadium, known colloquially as ‘the Glasshouse’ due to its permanent transparent roof.
With wet weather in Dunedin and further rain forecast, Hansen feels playing under cover will make for a finer contest.
“I think it’s definitely a help for both teams just because running rugby, we both play pretty similar styles, I’d say, and like to keep the ball infield,” he said.
“Whenever you can play on a dry pitch it’s just better for everyone, it’s a better spectacle.
“We know what they’re going to bring – the All Blacks like to keep the ball in play and try and run you around the pitch.”