Mack Hansen jokes he can't wait to sample the old Anglo-Irish rivalry

‘There’s a fair bit of hatred, isn’t there?’: Ireland winger Mack Hansen says he can’t wait to sample the Anglo-Irish rivalry, but warns Steve Borthwick’s men will be ‘pumped’ after France humiliation as his side look to land Grand Slam

  • Hansen moved to Ireland in 2021 and has been one of rugby’s breakthrough stars
  • On Saturday, the winger, 24, is set to make his first appearance against England
  • His defence and attack have made him a key figure in Andy Farrell’s Ireland side 

The last time Ireland beat England to win the Grand Slam, back in 2018, Mack Hansen was flitting between jobs as an electrician and a kindergarten teacher in Australia.

Labelling himself ‘the worst sparky in Canberra’, where he was brought up by his Irish mother, few could have predicted what would happen next.

He moved to Ireland in 2021, after chatting with the Connaught coach’s son in a pub, and has been one of the game’s breakthrough stars in Ireland’s No 14 jersey.

‘I didn’t watch the whole game live in 2018 but I’ve heard plenty of stories about the aftermath!’ said Hansen, 24, following his man-of-the match performance against Scotland.

On Saturday, he is set to make his first appearance against England, hoping to complete a clean sweep of victories and kick off a huge St Patrick’s Weekend party in Dublin.

Ireland’s Mack Hansen celebrates after scoring a try against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico

Ellis Genge looks on after speaking to England’s players after their humiliating lose to France

Asked for his take on the Anglo-Irish rivalry, the free-spirited winger, who has a team-mate’s face tattooed on his thigh, said: ‘I don’t know if I should say too much! There’s a fair bit of hatred, isn’t there? It’s good, though, because once the game is done they are good lads like everyone else. That s*** happened… how long ago now? But it does add a bit of fire to the game.

‘I think everybody hates England in general! It’s something I was aware of for sure. I’m so pumped for it. It’s going to be a great week, one to take in and savour. I’m so excited for it, especially at home on Paddy’s Day. It’s going to be unbelievable. I was unlucky that I didn’t get to play last year, so fingers crossed I get to play on Saturday.’

Hansen’s all-court game, in both defence and attack, has made him a key figure in Andy Farrell’s side. Ireland will go into the final weekend with a long list of injury concerns – Iain Henderson and Garry Ringrose were both ruled out on Monday – but confidence should still be high. Hansen, however, is expecting a fierce response from England after their humiliating defeat by France.

‘The worst thing that could have happened for us was England getting pumped at home,’ he said. ‘You just know they’re going to turn around and be hungry to make up for it. They’re a great side. It didn’t go their way against France, they still have unreal players. We know they’re going to bounce back, we know they’re going to bring a lot of energy. It’ll be a completely different team to last weekend. But we want to play against the best and if they’re at their best then it’s going to be great, a good match.’

The father-son dynamic between Andy and Owen Farrell, Ireland coach and England captain, will once again be thrown into the spotlight. True to form, Hansen was able shed humour on the situation, saying: ‘There’s be no moves run at Owen if he’s playing! There’ll be a lot of chat about lightly tapping him to the ground! Nah, Andy’s very good at just letting that go. He’s not going to slate him by any means but it’s just another game and it just happens that his son is playing for the other team. Andy will say the right words and get us pumped up no matter what. Owen will be broken up to bits, losing like that at Twickenham. It’s probably the worst thing that could have happened for us…’

On Saturday, 24-year-old Hansen is set to make his first appearance against England

Hansen’s all-court game, in both defence and attack, has made him a key figure in Andy Farrell’s side

It will be Hansen’s second St Patrick’s weekend fixture in Dublin and it is expected to be the sweetest yet. If Ireland’s green machine rumble onto victory, as expected, it will consolidate their status as the world’s number one side.

Recalling last year’s celebratory weekend, Hansen said: ‘While we were having our captain’s meeting last year there was a brawl going on outside the hotel window. 

‘It was incredibly hard to focus when you could just hear people screaming. Then, you look out and there’s an ambulance with some bloke KO’d on the ground!’

So what is he expecting this time around? ‘Riots! No, no, no… we have unbelievable fans. It means a lot knowing how much it means to everyone in the stadium. The crazier the better! Paddy’s Day weekend, the script couldn’t be better for us.’

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