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Read, Retallick ready for All Blacks action

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Lynn McConnell     07 Aug 2018     Getty Images

Naming his squad on Monday, Hansen said the return of captain Kieran Read and lock Brodie Retallick was especially pleasing.
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Read still wasn't at maximum efficiency but he was well down the track in his recovery.

Hansen said repair of nerve damage associated with Read's back surgery took time, especially in recovering his speed, but they were working towards that and and he was looking good as he had shown in the final.

And having Retallick back after he had missed nine Test matches would help Hansen sleep a lot easier because he regarded him the best lock in the world.

Addressing the inevitable question about where Crusaders first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga fitted in the scheme of things, Hansen said every time he went to Jade Stadium he was told to put Mo'unga in the team, but he was already in the team.

"He's in the squad, he's 24 years old and he's played one Test match. He's got competition from the specialist five-eighth in Beauden Barrett whose played 64 I think it is, been world player twice. Both them are very good rugby players.

"Our job is to maximise the talent we've got and over time you'll see Richie get more Test matches I'm sure but I think about a bloke prior to the World Cup we went to and everyone wanted us to drop Dan Carter. But he had one ingredient the other blokes didn't have and that was experience. And I think you saw that experience come out in the big moment in Test matches.

"So we have to build slowly with Richie and build his experience but in the meantime we've got a player in Beauden who's been the world's best player in the last two years so we won't be in any rush to shift him," he said.

There was also the consideration that fellow five-eighths Damian McKenzie also offered the versatility of being able to play fullback.

Jackson Hemopo, who is to be played as a blindside flanker, had impressed as a quick learner, a good athlete who was tough and hard-nosed.

Third-ranked halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi had the ability to develop into a stunning halfback. And while his opportunities were restricted, he had a pass closest to Aaron Smith in speed and he was growing nicely.

Crusaders wing George Bridge was one of the players who had missed out, he had played well, but he was young and his chance would come, Hansen said.