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Finals players will miss Argentina Test

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Lynn McConnell     21 May 2019     Getty Images

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said at the side's Foundation Day for North Island players on Monday that several of the players involved in the Investec Super Rugby finals would not be required for the Argentine trip.

However, they were likely to be available for the Wellington Test against South Africa on July 27.

Extra players would be taken to Argentina to cover for their absence. After the South Africa Test the squad would then be reduced for the home and away Bledisloe Cup series that sees the first game in Perth on August 10 and the second game in Auckland on August 17.

The Rugby Championship is reduced in 2019 because of the Rugby World Cup.

The World Cup squad would be named after the Auckland Test, Hansen said.

Four months out from the World Cup, Hansen said the biggest challenge would be getting through the next few weeks and getting the best team selected.
They were getting excited about going to Japan and trying to recapture a trophy they no longer had.

"We're going to try and so something that no-one else has ever done before and win three of them in a row. So the primary goal we've got to get now is to get this team selected, the right team selected, the right people in it and getting ourselves prepared for a Rugby Championship," he said.

It was a case of re-winning the Cup rather than defending it because the All Blacks didn't own it.

"It's not in the cabinet, it's gone back to World Rugby so you can't defend something you don't own. Our attitude has got to be that we've got to be hungry to go and get it back and recapture it," he said.

Hansen said it was great to see flanker Sam Cane get his first game time of the season against the Blues on Saturday night and on arrival at the All Blacks' session in Papakura he had a smile 'as wide as the Grand Canyon'.

"To be able to come through and play like he has is…I think it's great work first by the surgeons who did the initial work, great pre-hab and rehab work he's done since and all credit to himself. I look forward to seeing him out there a bit more often," he said.

Hansen reported tighthead prop Owen Franks was progressing nicely but his recovery couldn't be assessed until he engaged in game play while fullback Ben Smith was back running and with hamstrings it was advisable not to return too early and redo it because then it became a major problem.

"They'll take their time with that and when he's ready to go they'll let him go," he said.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read suffered a stinger injury ahead of the Stormers game in Cape Town which was touch and go to play and the medical team decided they wouldn't risk it to possibly have him right for the Crusaders game against the Blues this week.

Centre Sonny Bill Williams was back running and was possibly a couple of weeks away as was lock Brodie Retallick who has had surgery on his wrist.

The attention at the day would be on the micro skills they wanted to have them work on before reassembling and some game work, he said.

There wasn't a concern with the micro skills but Hansen said they were something that had to be worked on 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

"There're the core to your game and the better you get those, the better you can do things under pressure," he said.