Rugby Championship
Steve Hansen expects more clarity from All Blacks
July 15, 2015
New Zealand's Waisake Naholo speaks after being named to make his Test debut, Rugby Park, Christchurch, July 15, 2015
New Zealand's Waisake Naholo speaks after being named to make his Test debut © Getty Images

Steve Hansen expects the All Blacks to display more clarity of thinking and better execution when they kick-off the Rugby Championship against Argentina in Christchurch, having produced a scratchy display in defeating Manu Samoa in Apia 25-16.

Hansen has named 17 of the Apia matchday 23 to face the Pumas on Friday, and he believes they will be the better for the run after some players played against Manu Samoa in tropical heat and humidity having not had a match for three weeks. At the back of his mind will be his comments after the victory in Samoa that "some guys coped with it and others didn't ... 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".

"Introducing new stuff was an issue so we had three things that made us cluttered, and we played like we were cluttered," Hansen said. "We've had an extra week together. Those guys have all had a game now. The game was outstanding for us."

Hansen has made four changes to the starting XV, including the selection of debutant Waisake Naholo after posting 13 tries for the Highlanders in their run to the Super Rugby title. The other changes see Ma'a Nonu, TJ Perenara and Brodie Retallick recalled to the starting line-up. Naholo, and Hurricanes Nonu and Perenara weren't considered for the Samoa Test after their involvement in the Super Rugby final, while Retallick played off the bench.

Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor gets his chance to earn a debut cap off the bench, while Hurricanes lock Jeremy Thrush and Chief loose forward Liam Messam have also been added to the pine.

Hansen said the selectors had "a wee bit" of a balancing act in picking the side.

New Zealand's Kieran Read charges forward, Samoa v New Zealand, Apia Stadium, Apia, Samoa, July 8, 2015
Kieran Read and the All Blacks were given a warm welcome on and off the field in Samoa © Getty Images

"Some guys need a breather, some guys need to play and there's some guys we want to see," he said. "Put those three things in the mix and it does make it a bit tricky, but we want to win the game as well. There's a whole lot of things we're looking to do. We knew that when we selected 41 players."

That initial 41-strong All Blacks squad will be reduced to 31 for the defence of the World Cup later this year. Hansen said when asked if the players were mindful there had just four more Tests to impress before the cut was made that they were "probably too mindful".

"Some of them are probably worrying about it a bit more than they need to," he said. "As I said to them, they can't control selection. Their job is to go out there and performance and that's one thing they can control." But Hansen also understood their concern over Rugby Wworld Cup selection.

"It means a lot whether you've been here five minutes or you've been here for a long time," he said. "Of course they get anxious, just like everybody else. There's a little bit of edge and that's not a bad thing. It's about learning to cope with that, control it and operate within that, because that's what we're going to face right through the World Cup."

New Zealand: Israel Dagg; Waisake Naholo, Ma'a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams, Charles Piutau; Dan Carter, TJ Perenara; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino; Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano; Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Nepo Laulala, Jeremy Thrush, Liam Messam, Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Ryan Crotty.


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