Hansen expects full scale Welsh effort in Dunedin

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Lynn McConnell     23 Jun 2016     Getty Images

Wales had said they wanted to win the Test and the All Blacks wanted to win it as well, he said.


With that in mind New Zealand needed to make the changes to the side that they have in order to find out if they were going to be good enough for the side in the longer term.

The selectors trusted the players coming in, they had trained well and they needed the chance to state their case, he said.

Hansen said Beauden Barrett obviously deserved a start after his effort in the second Test. They wanted to give lock Luke Romano another chance as they were happy with what Patrick Tuipulotu had achieved and they wanted to see if Romano could offer what Tuipulotu provided when coming off the bench.

Flanker Ardie Savea had already shown that he could do the job but they needed to find what Liam Squire could do so he was named on the bench as well.

"I'm pretty certain he's going to add something when he comes on very similar to what Ardie is. He's a really good athlete and where he comes on and plays will be the interesting thing," Hansen said.

Covering centre will fall to Waisake Naholo. Hansen said if it had been life and death Malakai Fekitoa would have played but he had a nasty cut and a leg injury and the risk wasn't worth the reward.

The decision to start George Moala at centre, ahead of Seta Tamanivalu, was down to giving everybody an opportunity because with Sonny Bill Williams returning after the Olympic Games, one member of the group was likely to drop off the squad.

Hansen said Moala had been like a lot of young players who had a taste of the All Blacks and were desperate to have another go and they over-tried. He had taken time to relax with the Blues but with the All Blacks he had worked incredibly hard.

"He's in the best shape of his life, he's lost a little weight and he looks real quick and he's talking and confident so when you see players like that it is nice to see them get out and get an opportunity," he said.

Hansen said Julian Savea had trained very well.

"He's a different man from what we got when he first came into camp so I'm confident we'll get a better performance out of him than we got last time. Will we get the top drawer one? Who knows? But if we do it will be pretty special," he said.

There was no doubting Savea was good enough. You didn't go from being one of the best wings in the world to not making the team.

"We fully understand where he's at and we're confident that he's not far away from being where we need him to be and until Saturday comes we can't know totally."

New cap Elliot Dixon, who will start on the blindside flank, said he had set himself a goal of making the All Blacks but to get a starting role was even better.

The last couple of weeks in training, the step up from the Highlanders and learning all the game plans had been his focus and he felt that had prepared him well for this week.

"I think I would have been a bit under-cooked if it had been the first week," he said.

Making the All Blacks had started to feature in Dixon's thinking last year but it was more the desire to perform consistently, week-in and week-out, this year to see where it could take him.

He was well aware that Tests were faster, and that would be more so under the roof in Dunedin.