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Hansen backs Carter to fire

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Sportal.co.nz     05 Sep 2013     Getty Images

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen defended Carter's performance in his only appearance against France, in New Plymouth, in June.

He had come into the side when they were attempting to change the way they played and that was his first time exposed to that plan.

"He just needs a decent run of games. He's a world-class player. You saw that in the Super competition. When he got some games going he started putting some performances in.

"It's interesting isn't it? We've gone from probably having the best first five-eighths in the history of the game, but certainly the best first five-eighths in world rugby to probably the second best first five-eighths as well.

"Crudes [Aaron Cruden] has really developed and taken the bull by the horns. Beauden [Barrett] is developing nicely and Tom Taylor's performance the other day was nothing short of miraculous coming in as your fourth five-eighths with the confidence.

"That creates a little bit of depth but it also creates some pressure and it will interesting how Dan takes that. You don't want him looking over his shoulder, you want him looking forward and trying to improve his own game rather than being pressured.

"And I'm sure he will, he's had a few challenges in his time," he said.

Another back in the frame after injury is tighthead prop Charlie Faumuina who has replaced the injured Owen Franks.

"He's made some really good progress, he's really knuckled down and got his fitness and condition and strength has improved immensely so it's a big day for him and he's ready for it. It's a big opportunity but one that I think he's really ready for," he said.

While there had been incidents in the recent South Africa-Argentina Test in Mendoza, Hansen was not concerned ahead of Saturday's encounter.

One of the great strengths of Argentinian rugby was its physical nature, he said, and when two teams were physical the level of intensity rose and he was expecting they would be physical against the All Blacks.

"We'll have to meet that challenge," Hansen said.

"We're not playing tiddlywinks and every now and then people probably do things they don't want to do – in the heat of the battle it happens. I don't see them as being a dirty team.

"They're a good rugby side, they're growing into this competition and they've probably got the hardest job of all four teams. They've got most of their players playing in the Northern Hemisphere, they don't get much of an opportunity to get that reconditioning window that you get at the end of the season because they are coming straight into a June window.

"It's going to be difficult going on for them but hopefully they can get some contracted players back home and involved in some competition that suits this competition," he said.

Hansen saw Argentina being involved in Investec Super Rugby as a natural step but he didn't know how it might happen.