New Zealand
Some All Blacks not up to Test football: Hansen
July 9, 2015
Samoa 16-25 New Zealand (Australia only)

The All Blacks will prepare for one of the great adjustments in Test rugby with words of warning from Steve Hansen ringing in their ears.

The coach was unimpressed with elements of their season-opening 25-16 win over Samoa in Apia, even when taking into consideration the heat, the rustiness of the players and the absence of Highlanders and Hurricanes players involved in the Super Rugby final four days earlier. Several unnamed players have plenty to prove after Hansen delivered his verdict on how the team struggled to cope with the intensity of the world No.9-ranked Samoans on Wednesday.

"Some guys coped with it and others didn't, so we got answers there," Hansen said. "We're nowhere near where we need to be. It wasn't as good a performance as we were hoping for, but there were a number of factors."

More than two-thirds of his team hadn't played for three weeks, while the draining humidity was something for which they were never going to be prepared given they arrived in Samoa less 48 hours before kick-off.

"There's no point us panicking," Hansen said. "We've got a base camp and now we can keep working and keep going up. We know we've got to go a long way up if we're going to be really competitive."

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen is made an honorary High Chief, Apia, Samoa, July 9 , 2015
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen was made an honorary High Chief in Samoa © Getty Images

Hansen now faces a selection issue, with the 17 players involved in the Super Rugby final available for the opening Rugby Championship Test against Argentina a week on Friday in wintry Christchurch, where a temperature drop of about 25C must be factored in. They will arrive in Christchurch on Friday, one day before the team returns from Samoa.

Hansen will make changes for the Pumas Test, but he is giving few clues about how many. He will, however, certainly farewell the six players who were additions to his original squad - Seta Tamanivalu, Tom Taylor and Ofa Tu'ungafasi - plus three who debuted in Apia, George Moala, Brad Weber and Charlie Ngatai. Debutant prop Nepo Laulala remains in squad as injury cover for the injured Charlie Faumuina, with Andy Ellis doing the same for Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

Kerr-Barlow makes his international return from a long-term knee injury for the Maori All Blacks against Fiji in Suva on Saturday. Maori captain Ngatai is to join them from Apia.

Hansen was relieved the bruising Samoan Test hadn't resulted in any major injuries. Luke Romano suffered a gruesome facial injury but he was cleared of a break by x-rays. The lock will undergo a further scan in New Zealand to confirm there was no fine crack to his cheekbone.


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