Hansen employs history card in pre-Test thinking

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Lynn McConnell     15 Sep 2016     Getty Images

Critics in South Africa, especially, have been harsh on the Springboks as they attempt to create new combinations in the post-World Cup situation all teams find themselves in this year.

Hansen said while South Africa hadn't been getting the results they would want, on paper they were a very good side, and they would have their backs against the wall, they would be hungry and that always made them difficult opponents.

The respect between the two countries was based on the strength of their rugby legacy and because of their commitment to that it was always a tough battle between the two.

At the moment Hansen wondered if South Africa were having issues about how they wanted to play because of the impact the Lions had made in Super Rugby with their more expansive style.

"There's a certain style South Africa play and it's bruising, it's physical and it's reasonably direct whereas the Lions don't play like that," he said.

But when changing styles and moulding teams it could take time to settle the formula. When they did get their choice of style right teams should look out, he said.

"South Africa are one team that have continually tested New Zealand for a long time and whilst we've had a pretty good run of victories of late there hasn't been much in it," Hansen said.

He said part of his thinking for the Christchurch Test match was based on how New Zealand would be feeling if they had been through the same thing. The players would be getting tighter and tighter together and it wouldn't be any different for South Africa.

And by all the history of South African-New Zealand rugby a physical response would be coming.

Hansen made the point that 2016 had been about re-establishing the All Blacks side, not rebuilding, because a player like Sam Cane had played 30 Tests before the season started so he and others were looking to establish themselves in the side.

"Part of our re-establishment is making sure we can cope with pressure so the more games we get where we have to deal with things that are a little unexpected the better because then we get the opportunity to learn from it and grow from it and become stronger because of it."

That was why the Argentine Test last week had been so good for the side, he said.

In relation to the selection of flanker Ardie Savea in the openside flanker role for the game Hansen said Savea understood his role and that would be the same whether starting or coming off the bench. He was excited about looking to replicate the work Sam Cane had been doing before his injury which was the hard work through first 50-60 minutes.

"He's going to have to be strong in the tackle, strong over the ball and if he gets the opportunity to carry that is the natural side of his game. But the core roles he's got, he's going to have to do really well," Hansen said.