Season of 2017 will have impact in All Blacks' future

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    26 Nov 2017     Getty Images

Coach Steve Hansen told SKY Sport after the side's 33-18 triumph over Wales at Millennium Stadium on Sunday (NZT) that it was a year that could be marked down in the book as significant for the All Blacks' future.


Hansen said the win had been close to the sort of effort they had been wanting throughout the tour. They scored some lovely tries after getting over a fragile first five minutes. They and Wales had both played well, he said.

"I'm just extremely proud of the group. We've got 11-12 out with injury and not many sides would be able to do what we have done for the whole year and battle our way through.

"It's been a tough year but a really rewarding year. We'll end up with some young men really knocking on the door over the next few years to be part of this team," he said.

Wales' ability to hang onto the ball for long periods had asked a lot of questions of the All Blacks but he said new defence coach Scott McLeod could be pleased with his defensive work during the week which had been so valuable on the night.

"The attitude was good and the tackles were made.

"We went bone deep in the preparation this week. That was one of the focuses we had and we achieved that," he said.

The Welsh Test was yet another demonstration to the side that they needed to turn up with a 10 attitude because if you didn't and the opposition turned up with a 10 you lessened the odds for your own success.

Captain Sam Whitelock said it had been a tough first half.

"I would hate to know how many tackles we made but I think we really improved in our discipline, especially in that first half when we were on our own line," he said.

The side had taken two chances when they got them in the first half and they knew in the second half all they had to do was get their hands on the ball.

"And in parts of the second we did that and made the most of it and Rieko [Ioane] in a bit of open space is pretty quick," he said.

Wales' approach was no surprise. They had been a great side for a long time, he said, and they were always going to get up playing for their country, especially against New Zealand.

The side had prepared well, easing off in some of their usual areas to ensure they had plenty of energy and had been rewarded with their win.

He said the captaincy role had been made easier with so much good support around him and it had been good to finish the season by scoring tries and pulling away at the end.

Man of the match Rieko Ioane said it had been a shaky start to the week but the medical team had done a huge job getting him onto the field.

He said he hadn't been able to lift his arm above his head at the start of the week and it had appeared he might be out for a period of time. But he was happy to get out on the field and to be able to produce the performance he did.
Ioane said he was just enjoying his rugby and playing with what he called, 'the best bunch of boys you could play with'.

"Everyone seems to be having fun, we're all feeding off each other. We might make a few mistakes but we got there in the end," he said.

The year had been one that was beyond his belief but he was surrounded by quality players and he was lucky enough to be living his dream every day.

Flanker Sam Cane said it had been 'an absolute arm wrestle' for large parts of the game.

"We talked about working hard, and keeping on working hard, and getting up and going again and we would find some opportunities and when we do we've just got to take them. We did it in the end.

"If you want to win you have got to believe you can win. We believe we can and I'm sure they believed they could do and that created a hell of a Test match," he said.

There had been a lot of talk about players needed to step up and on the night they did, Cane said.

With teams looking to hold onto the ball for longer it was tough work to contain them. And he added that the way some less experienced players had risen to the occasion, especially when they wouldn't have started the season believing they had a chance, had been outstanding.