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Hansen excited with All Blacks' preparations

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Lynn McConnell     12 Jul 2019     Getty Images

An interesting measure of progress had been seen when the Crusaders joined the side on Thursday, having not been involved in the post-selection camp last week and the follow-up this week.

"We've had two weeks with the other group and seeing the Crusaders coming in and doing what we were doing, you could see the difference," he said.

"We're really excited where we're heading, as are the players. There's a bit of excitement about the type of game we want to play and the stuff we're doing. Having said all of that, it's the first game of the season, we're bringing five different franchises together to play the All Blacks way and that takes a little bit of time.

"We're always a bit rusty in the first two or three games of the season, and we haven't had the June window. But I'm excited about what we're doing, we're excited about the people we've got doing it and the team, regardless of who we select in Argentina, is going to be pretty different because it doesn't have any Crusaders. The three guys who are going, two of them have never played and one of them has only played one game.

"It's giving people an opportunity to express themselves on the park but also off it. We're finding there are a lot of guys talking a bit more than they normally because they have to because the guys who would normally talk aren't here," he said.

Hansen confirmed that Crusaders newcomers Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor and one-Test wing George Bridge would be in the side to travel to Argentina while Shannon Frizell would not be going as he suffered a cut that was right on a joint and prevented him from training.

"We want him to go back and train and if he flies he loses four days of his training time," he said.

Sonny Bill Williams had come through the week's training and was a possible contender for a place next weekend in Buenos Aires.

"He is a shot to play but we're not going to risk him. As much as we want him to play and he needs game time, if he's not 100 percent, there's not point putting him out there and him reinjuring it. We'll make that decision next week. He's training really well, making very good progress," he said.

If he didn't make the team to play Argentina Hansen was sure he would be available to play in Wellington.

Hansen said there would be two challenges, external and internal, facing the All Blacks in Buenos Aires.

"The external challenge is an Argentina team that has a lot of unity and has had a lot of time together," he said.

"They're a big pack, they've got a lot of confidence, and they've just had a little bit of adversity so will be somewhat more determined. It would be a great way to get rid of the pain of losing the final if they beat us.

"The internal challenge is moulding the team quickly into our patterns, our way of playing and getting connected in really tight. We'll have to work hard at that," he said.

News that ace first five-eighths Beauden Barrett would be available to New Zealand through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup was good news for the new management team who will come in after this year's World Cup.

Hansen said anything that kept Barrett playing in New Zealand was great and it was a decision he would not have made lightly.

He had made the decision not to commute to Wellington from Auckland and that was in his best interests because that sort of travel couldn't be sustained.

"The logical place is to play here [Auckland] and playing for the All Blacks rather than having to go overseas.

"The Blues will be clapping their hands I'm sure. They've just got one of the greatest players in the world signed on their roster," he said.

It would be a chance to grow a team around him. Every time had a spine while the first five-eighths was the computer who operated the side. He handled the ball more than anyone else in a game and you couldn't win too many things without a good first five-eighths.

At the same time you also couldn't win without a good forward pack producing quality ball to allow the team to go forward, Hansen said.

The benefit for Auckland was having a Blues team that attracted the interest of young people so they played rugby instead of going to other sports.

The Blues already had a good playing roster but what they had now was a drawcard with a good coach in Leon MacDonald and in time progress would be seen.
Heading into the Investec Rugby Championship without the benefit of three Test matches in the now discarded June window, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is excited at what he has observed in players switching into the team's playing pattern this year.

An interesting measure of progress had been seen when the Crusaders joined the side on Thursday, having not been involved in the post-selection camp last week and the follow-up this week.

"We've had two weeks with the other group and seeing the Crusaders coming in and doing what we were doing, you could see the difference," he said.

"We're really excited where we're heading, as are the players. There's a bit of excitement about the type of game we want to play and the stuff we're doing. Having said all of that, it's the first game of the season, we're bringing five different franchises together to play the All Blacks way and that takes a little bit of time.

"We're always a bit rusty in the first two or three games of the season, and we haven't had the June window. But I'm excited about what we're doing, we're excited about the people we've got doing it and the team, regardless of who we select in Argentina, is going to be pretty different because it doesn't have any Crusaders. The three guys who are going, two of them have never played and one of them has only played one game.

"It's giving people an opportunity to express themselves on the park but also off it. We're finding there are a lot of guys talking a bit more than they normally because they have to because the guys who would normally talk aren't here," he said.

Hansen confirmed that Crusaders newcomers Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor and one-Test wing George Bridge would be in the side to travel to Argentina while Shannon Frizell would not be going as he suffered a cut that was right on a joint and prevented him from training.

"We want him to go back and train and if he flies he loses four days of his training time," he said.

Sonny Bill Williams had come through the week's training and was a possible contender for a place next weekend in Buenos Aires.

"He is a shot to play but we're not going to risk him. As much as we want him to play and he needs game time, if he's not 100 percent, there's not point putting him out there and him reinjuring it. We'll make that decision next week. He's training really well, making very good progress," he said.

If he didn't make the team to play Argentina Hansen was sure he would be available to play in Wellington.

Hansen said there would be two challenges, external and internal, facing the All Blacks in Buenos Aires.

"The external challenge is an Argentina team that has a lot of unity and has had a lot of time together," he said.

"They're a big pack, they've got a lot of confidence, and they've just had a little bit of adversity so will be somewhat more determined. It would be a great way to get rid of the pain of losing the final if they beat us.

"The internal challenge is moulding the team quickly into our patterns, our way of playing and getting connected in really tight. We'll have to work hard at that," he said.

News that ace first five-eighths Beauden Barrett would be available to New Zealand through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup was good news for the new management team who will come in after this year's World Cup.

Hansen said anything that kept Barrett playing in New Zealand was great and it was a decision he would not have made lightly.

He had made the decision not to commute to Wellington from Auckland and that was in his best interests because that sort of travel couldn't be sustained.

"The logical place is to play here [Auckland] and playing for the All Blacks rather than having to go overseas.

"The Blues will be clapping their hands I'm sure. They've just got one of the greatest players in the world signed on their roster," he said.

It would be a chance to grow a team around him. Every time had a spine while the first five-eighths was the computer who operated the side. He handled the ball more than anyone else in a game and you couldn't win too many things without a good first five-eighths.

At the same time you also couldn't win without a good forward pack producing quality ball to allow the team to go forward, Hansen said.

The benefit for Auckland was having a Blues team that attracted the interest of young people so they played rugby instead of going to other sports.

The Blues already had a good playing roster but what they had now was a drawcard with a good coach in Leon MacDonald and in time progress would be seen.