Hard-working Williams enjoys Hansen's support

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Lynn McConnell     17 Oct 2017     Getty Images

Hansen was asked about Williams' form and defended him from the criticism he has received in some quarters.

"Here's a guy that's come off an Achilles injury, a notoriously slow injury to come back from. He's playing well," he said.

"When he's a flashy player everyone moans about him being too flashy and that he doesn't do the hard work. 

"At the moment he's doing all the hard work and probably not as much of the other stuff as people get excited about.

"But, he's in the leadership group, he's leading well. He has a major influence on the young guys with his training habits and he's getting down and dirty and doing the hard work so we're quite happy with him."

Williams was a polarised player in the media with 50-50 split in support with either side using his performances to state their case for better or worse.

"He's a good international rugby player and we're quite comfortable," Hansen said.

The management had called in Canterbury and Crusaders first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga as cover for Beauden Barrett, who was still suffering effects from a head knock suffered against South Africa in Cape Town. Barrett had passed an HIA during the Test but did not retake the field.

He had been suffering headaches and while able to train he hadn't been feeling 100 percent afterwards, Hansen said.

"We'll just see how he goes during the week and if he's not right he won't play," he said.

Hansen added if Barrett came right before the team announcement on Thursday, Mo'unga would be released to go back to Canterbury for the Mitre 10 Cup semi-final.

The All Blacks had to dig deeper into their resources this year for a variety of reasons including injury and personal circumstances but it wasn't doing any harm because it was increasing exposure to the demands of international play.

"It makes you a little uncomfortable when you're the coach, or coaches and selectors, because you're not sure if they're ready. The guys have done really well – some have surprised us and some have just confirmed what we already knew so it's been good and we'll get the rewards from it probably in 2019 when everyone's looking to go to that World Cup," he said.

While depth was developing it was also increasing the experiences, both positive and negative, which taught lessons that made the squad stronger.

The Wallabies had continued to develop through the Investec Rugby Championship and were a confident side. They had played two draws which would have disappointed them against South Africa and would come to Brisbane pretty confident, he said.

While the Wallabies hadn't caught the All Blacks napping with the intensity of their game in the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Dunedin, Hansen said it was always difficult to back up in a second game having won the first contest well.

"It's one of the hardest things in sport, I think, when you know you have beaten the opposition, sub-consciously your brain eases off one or two percent. They hadn't played for six weeks and they certainly got a lot out of it and came at us so it should be a good Test match [in Brisbane]," he said.

The Dunedin Test had ensured the All Blacks wouldn't be 'one or two percent off' on this occasion.

"It's a great place to play, there's a lot of New Zealanders…so we're looking forward to it," he said.