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All Blacks on World Cup track - Hansen

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Lynn McConnell     03 Nov 2017     Getty Images

Speaking in London before Sunday's (NZT) game with the Barbarians, he said, "We're coming along nicely. We've got some stuff we've got to tidy up.

"We've deliberately tried to do some stuff and deliberately not tried to do some stuff, if that makes sense. We probably haven't played our complete game. You can't grow something if you don't look at it and try to grow it. There's been areas of our game we've tried to grow, we're getting better at it.



"The key thing this year that has happened is we've had a number of injuries, we've had suspensions, we've had some personal tragedies and that's exposed a wider base than we probably originally thought we would do this year.

"At the end of this season or at the beginning of next year when everyone's available we should have a bigger pool to pick from and more competitive people, more experienced people which should give us a boost for the next level," he said.

The game wouldn't be about making a statement to England, ahead of their game with the All Blacks in 12 months time.

That was something that would be worried about at the time. Hansen said after the All Blacks had lost to England in 2012 the media had said it had upset the All Blacks World Cup hopes but in reality a lot of water had to flow under the bridge that things like that weren't even on their mind.

Hansen acknowledged rugby in England at the moment was in good shape and people were excited about it which was a credit to what they were doing in the England team

While the Barbarians game wasn't a Test match it remained an important game because of the opportunity it provided for the development of players.

It would still require the usual demands to earn the right to move the ball because in a loose game more spilled ball provided more opportunities for the opposition.

It would be new defence coach Scott McLeod's first game in his new role but Hansen said he had been relaxed. The plan to have him with the side at home earlier in the year meant he wasn't coming in cold and he knew the systems and the players knew him.

The game would not be a trial for wing Julian Savea. They had a plan to get him enjoying his rugby.

"He's been a very good Test player, he's played 52 Tests so you don't play that many unless you're a good player. We've just given him a bit of a break away from the environment and hopefully that break will get him excited and get him enjoying playing again.

"Who better to play for if you're looking to get a big excited than the Barbarians because he's going to get plenty of running. The back three they've picked none of them want to kick the ball we'd better get our tackling ready, I'd suggest," he said.

Hansen said playing South Africa first up at the Rugby World Cup was exciting and the key thing for the side was they now know where they are playing. And the next step in preparation would be sorting the logistics of accommodation and training.

New Zealand will open their campaign in Yokohama against South Africa on September 21, 2019 with Italy their final pool game on October 12. They will play the winner of a Repechage on October 2 in Oita and the Africa 1 winner in Tokyo on October 6.