Lineout drive defence to get some attention

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Lynn McConnell     18 Jul 2015     Getty Images

"It's the hardest part of the game to fix, it's difficult.

"It's illegal obstruction the lineout drive. I've been saying it for years and no-one wants to listen but there are some things we can do a lot better and one of the key things we didn't do quite right tonight was to try and break it down early enough," he said.

What he was suggesting wasn't a crack at the way referee Craig Joubert ruled the moves, Hansen was having a go at the laws.

And the All Blacks didn't need to deal with the moves illegally but they hadn't got in on their moves, or wedges, quickly enough.

"They got a platform set and as soon as they took it off centre we were in trouble," he said.

As a result they were under no illusions of what South Africa's intentions would be next weekend.

"They will scrum for penalties, they will kick for lineouts and they will drive so we will need to get better at it before we play them otherwise there will be a lot of tries," Hansen said.

One of the charters of rugby law was that the game had to be a fair contest, but the lineout drive wasn't fair. Allowing the maul to be collapsed would go part of the way to achieving that, he said.

Captain Richie McCaw said one approach would be to reduce the opportunities for teams to get five-metre lineouts and they had created those chances by conceding back-to-back penalties.

It was likely to be something the side faced often as the year went on, he said.

But overall Hansen was pleased with the result.

"We're very, very happy with tonight's performance, it's a big step up from where we were. It's been a big week, a lot of people have been under pressure.

"Obviously we are not there yet, there are still a lot of things to work on but at this moment we have got to concentrate on the things that are the positives so we are very, very happy," he said.

There would be a number of individuals in the changing room who would be happy with how they performed, and rightly so, he said.

"Israel [Dagg] hasn't played much rugby and was pretty scratchy against Samoa and came back and played well tonight. He's everyone's favourite to have a crack at when he's not playing well.

"Last week a whole lot of us played poorly and he got singled out, so it's pleasing he's coped with that pressure, the external pressure, by performing as well as he has," he said.

McCaw said he felt the team took a good step forward. The forwards knew there was going to be a challenge up front which by and large there had been.

The Argentinians had tried to hold the ball a bit more than in the past and the pleasing thing was the All Blacks didn't let the visitors' big men make too many inroads around the fringes.

"Bar the couple of drives where they scored I thought we looked after them pretty well," he said.

Hansen said at this time of year, every game a side could get was the 'perfect preparation' because of the blend of styles that had to be overcome.

He said Waisake Naholo's performance had been exciting. He would acknowledge some errors but to have come into a daunting environment, he had trained and prepared well and up until he hurt his ankle he had been great.

The lesson for him was that when he got hurt he lost his focus and doubled up a couple of errors but when he made one break up the centre people were out of their seats because he could do things other people couldn't.

"The more he plays the better he is going to get, he's going to get more comfortable. He's the same as everybody else in that regard," he said.

Backs coach Ian Foster felt Dagg had his speed back. He had been working at speed all week.

"He's like a lot of outside backs when they really get their legs back they can start to back their acceleration, their speed, and that brings a confidence with it," he said.

His kicking would improve but it had been his confidence and speed to take people on that stood out.

Hansen said the off-loading ability was a skill set the side had, but it hadn't always been done at the right time. However learning that would improve its effectiveness.

Hansen paid credit to scrum coach Mike Cron for his work with the pack which stood out in the game. And he acknowledged the way Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Owen Franks had worked with Codie Taylor and Nepo Laulala to the point where the younger players came on and the pack lost nothing in scrummaging.