"The team itself is
growing, and the belief in the team is growing as you saw (against the
Boks). Some of the young players are making big strides. Ofa (Tu'ungafasi) is starting to really look like a Test tighthead prop ...
Codie Taylor, who had an opportunity with Dane (Coles) being injured,
comes on now and it's like we've lost nothing, and you're talking about
Dane being the best hooker in the world. That gives you a lot of
confidence as a team."
Hansen could have continued.
Rieko Ioane has become a world-class
left wing in a short space of time (on Saturday he had 12 carries,
gained 171 metres, beat 11 defenders and made four clean breaks), Nehe
Milner-Skudder has slotted back in on the right side as though he has
never been away, Damian McKenzie is making a decent fist of fullback,
Liam Squire and Vaea Fifita are emerging, so is Scott Barrett, and Nepo
Laulala has filled in brilliantly for Owen Franks in the difficult
The team retains real quality in the key
positions. Halves Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith are back to their best
(or close to it), Kieran Read is on top of his game, Brodie Retallick
too and Sam Cane is setting the tone up front in all the right areas
(like his team-leading 15 tackles on Saturday).
the All Blacks were down some pretty heavy hitters, with Owen Franks, Joe
Moody and Israel Dagg all out injured (and likely done for the year),
and Ben Smith absent on sabbatical.
Yet you wouldn't have known it. The forwards laid a wonderful
platform, the backs attacked brilliantly and the defence was as good as
it gets. Hard to do better than nil.
Hansen wants to see more of
the standard on Saturday over the looming road component. To that
extent, the experience his players are garnering is invaluable, he says.
had a young side against Argentina who had to battle through that game.
So they're getting learnings. Then this group contained some of those
young guys and you saw their performance go up another level. It's a
And his depth continues to grow. He is
introducing props, and loose forwards, and back-three men who are
lapping up their experiences. Jerome Kaino's absence has barely been
"The big plus to the injuries is you have to expose other
people to the coalface and they have to grow up quickly," added Hansen.
"At the end of it when everyone comes back you've got a bigger pool.
"We're not the finished article by any stretch, we've still got a lot more growing to do and we look forward to doing that."
the non-players are doing their thing. The All Blacks lineout had a
field day on Saturday with five takeaways. Latter it was revealed that
Luke Romano had masterminded that plan.
"We've got a big player
input. We've got a lot of brains here, so let's use as many of them as
we can," said Hansen.
"Luke thrives on that stuff. He's good at it, so
why wouldn't you use it?