New Zealand rugby
All Blacks coach offers selection reasoning
May 15, 2013
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is keen to spend time with players he does not know so well © Getty Images
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has reiterated that players who missed out on selection in his wider training group were not out of the picture when it came to selection for the series against France.
Hansen's 38-man squad included 10 uncapped players but just one specialist openside flanker - Sam Cane - and the three hookers from last year's end of year tour - Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu and Dane Coles.
Those unlucky to miss out were Matt Todd, Luke Braid, Tanerau Latimer, Andy Ellis and Corey Flynn who have been playing well in Super Rugby. All remain on Hansen's radar.
"There are a number of guys not at the camp that are playing well," said the All Blacks coach who will name his squad for the French series on June 2. "If you're not in the 38 don't believe that you still can't make the squad. We showed that last year when we picked people who didn't come to the camp."
Hansen said a restriction on numbers and the desire to spend time with players they did not know so well like Frank Halai, Charles Piutau, Steven Luatua, Francis Saili, TJ Perenara, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Tom Taylor and Brad Shields as opposed to those they did like Todd, Braid, Latimer, Ellis and Flynn had been reflected in the selections.
But he also admitted that there were a lack of young hookers ready to make the step up to Test level, particularly with the Hurricanes' Motu Matu'u and Blues' James Parsons injured.
"We don't think there is a younger hooker ready to come in yet. Our main focus is Dane Coles in that area," Hansen said. "We think if we can bring him up to speed and use the other two (Mealamu and Hore) as well, particularly early in the season, we'll be happy with that."
"We've got Corey Flynn playing probably his best rugby he's played for a while which is pleasing," Hansen added. "But you look around at the young guys that are left and two of them have got broken bones. The others are 21, 22 and are not quite ready to step in and there's no point bringing them in until they're ready. You just have to be patient."
The All Blacks coach also mentioned it is a time to gauge some of the older names.
"We'll also find out how much desire and commitment and rugby (Mealamu and Hore) have left in them. Talking to them they say they've got plenty so we'll wait and see," Hansen said
Rene Ranger has been included despite being linked to a move to France. The Blues utility last played for the All Blacks in 2010.
"If we end up selecting him and then he left to go to France that would be disappointing, but at this stage he hasn't signed anything officially to go. We'll have to wait and see," Hansen said. "What we've got to concentrate on is picking the best team that we can pick. He's playing particularly well at the moment so he's certainly put his hand up."