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Selectors learned plenty - Hansen

NZRU

Sportal.co.nz     19 Jun 2006     NZRU

The first Test was affected by the lack of familiarity among team members while the heavy rain reduced the second Test as a contest.

But forwards coach and selector Steve Hansen said the panel still got plenty out of the series.

"Every game is helpful. You learn things all the time, the first game was a bit stuttery because of lack of combinations and lack of time together and last night the weather didn't help.

"Even so there were lots of lessons we learnt, people were put under pressure which is different pressure to Super 14 rugby," he said.

Hansen confirmed that the team chosen for the Argentina match next Sunday morning (NZT) has been selected for that game alone.

"We needed an extra hooker, we need an extra halfback. That meant there was a bigger emphasis on people who had utility value. Troy [Flavell] goes as a lock-6, Ma'a [Nonu] goes as a centre-wing, people like that become very important," he said.

It was the same for Craig Newby in the loose forwards.

The Tri Nations will not require the same amount of versatility, at least for home games.

"When you've got 30 you've got a little bit more room to move, particularly in the first instance when we don't have to travel away from home.

"If you lose a hooker you can ring somebody up and bring them in, [to] unofficially train with you if you want them to," he said.

With matches in South Africa on successive weekends it is more likely that three hookers and three halfbacks will be taken.

Hansen said that the sore back that resulted in Flavell leaving the field early in the second half responded well to treatment and he was considered fit enough to make the trip to Argentina.

Hansen said he felt Flavell was making some real progress since his return from Japan.

"He is probably lacking match fitness because he hasn't played much with that shoulder injury. He certainly hasn't played a lot of rugby in the last two years at this level of intensity.

"It takes a wee while to get back in the saddle and get everything right.

"I've been really impressed with how he's wanted to learn, and his discipline has been unquestionable. There was a bit of a fracas there last night and he's standing out the back of it. He's definitely turned a corner in that area. He's going well," he said.

Hansen said that it was important for first five-eighths Luke McAlister's development that he experience the atmosphere he could be exposed to in Buenos Aires.

"It will be ideal for him to be involved in the Test and learn some more about himself under pressure and the type of pressure he probably won't ever have faced before, and so that's why he is going."