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Hansen admits no hooker ready for All Blacks step up

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James Mortimer     15 May 2013     Getty Images

Coles has been selected alongside elder statesman Andrew Hore and Keven Mealamu, but despite flagging hooker as a potential problem position, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen decided not to give the next cab in the rank a look in at this stage.

"We don't think there is a younger hooker ready to come in yet," Hansen said to ESPN Scrum.

Coles, who has been earmarked as an All Blacks hooker in recent seasons, will be the team's special project.

"Our main focus is Dane Coles in that area," Hansen said.

"We think if we can bring him up to speed and use the other two (Mealamu and Hore) as well, particularly early in the season, we'll be happy with that."

Hansen again stressed that players outside the squad could still be selected for the Steinlager Series, mentioning Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn as a player still on the All Blacks radar.

"We've got Corey Flynn playing probably his best rugby he's played for a while which is pleasing," Hansen said.

However outside of that the situation wasn't so ideal.

"But you look around at the young guys that are left and two of them have got broken bones," Hansen said, mentioning the Hurricanes' Motu Matu'u and Blues' James Parsons.

"The others are 21, 22 and are not quite ready to step in and there's no point bringing them in until they're ready. You just have to be patient."

Hansen said another big part of the hooking equation was how much his two mainstays had left in the tank.

"We'll also find out how much desire and commitment and rugby (Mealamu and Hore) have left in them," he said.

"Talking to them they say they've got plenty so we'll wait and see."