Test challenge has Hansen geed up

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Lynn McConnell     29 Jun 2017     Getty Images

Hansen said, "It's going to be a great game, I'm really looking forward to it. I love these types of Test matches because they really challenge you as a coaching group and as a team.

"It's got all the earmarks of being another great Test and that's what we're here for. Our game is way more important than all of us and if we can produce the game that has ebbs and flows in it we'll get more people excited about watching it and more people involved in it and our game stays alive," he said.

The Lions would go into the Test in a do-or-die frame of mind because they knew that with a little bit of luck they could have won last weekend's Test so the All Blacks knew they would be fired up to try to level the series.

"Everyone has to step up and if we don't step up we'll get second," he said.

Hansen expected the Lions would look to be more competitive at the breakdown.

Preparing for a Test was all about the cut and thrust of what the opposition might, or might not, do and reacting to those circumstances. That was why coaches and players loved that part of the contest, he said.

"Every Lions team with the talent they have at their disposal is going to be hard to beat, it just comes down to who plays well enough on the day. We've got a talented side and if we prepare well, really genuinely bone deep then we're hard to beat and they're no different, they've got plenty of good players.

"How they choose to play with that talent will be the interesting thing," he said.

Changes to the All Blacks had been forced by the injury to fullback Ben Smith while Hurricanes second five-eighths Ngani Laumape had been named in the reserves to make his debut.

Hansen said Laumape had left the selectors with little option but to choose him in his game against the Lions for the Hurricanes on Tuesday. He had continued his Investec Super Rugby form and Tuesday's game had been a level above Super Rugby against a good international side.

"It was a wonderful game and he contributed to it a lot so he made it pretty simple," he said.

Laumape wasn't the complete package yet, he said, but he had speed, could tackle and had good off-loading ability and had the mental fortitude to play in the big moments and he scored a lot of tries.

There had been consideration to playing Beauden Barrett at fullback, but the desire to have him run play from first five-eighths made the choice a no-brainer.

Hansen said he had been disappointed with the New Zealand Herald's cartoon depiction of Lions coach Warren Gatland.

"It's one thing to have a bit of banter and then you guys [the media] beef it to make it something bigger than it really is…I've heard you say I don't like him and we won't have a beer. I've got a lot of respect for him, I think he's a good coach. I've got a lot of respect for the Lions and they're a good team.

"But to come out and do that, you're ridiculing someone who doesn't deserve it. At the end of the day we're all coaches trying to do what we think is right. Sometimes people don't always agree with what we do and that's okay, you're allowed to have an opinion, but to ridicule someone is not right and a bit disappointing," he said.

Hansen said Ben Smith would not be considered for the third Test. It had been decided not to risk him and to allow him to recover.