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'Sharpened attitude' expected of All Blacks

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    03 Jul 2017     Getty Images

Speaking from Wellington, Hansen said the side would be well aware the three-Test series was on the line at the weekend in Auckland and the challenge was to prepare accordingly.

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At the same time he said competition was good for the game and all involved because it forced every to have to improve.

"If we want to see our game continue to grow, to foster the things that it does in the way of camaraderie, to teach us lessons about life, good and bad, we have got to keep encouraging our game to be strong.

"The big thing about when you lose is that it's painful isn't it? It sharpens the mind, it sharpens the attitude. You look at things probably a little deeper than you normally do," he said.

"We try to learn when we win, but in this case we had a side that beat us because on the day they were a little better than us.

"We have to acknowledge that and then go: 'Okay, how can we be better than them?' We'll do that through the week, do our best to stay 15 on 15 and then see if we can get some strategies going," he said.

Compared to some times in the past when losses resulted in an outpouring of vitriol, Hansen said New Zealand fans had improved in recent times and understood when things didn't go right. The team had given everything they had, especially being down to 14 men for three-quarters of the game, and that was generally acknowledged.

"It's when you lose and you feel like people haven't turned up is when people get frustrated.

"Our guys turned up, they just didn't get the job done," he said.



The All Blacks hadn't had to go through losing at home for some time and people had started to get carried away about what the All Blacks were capable of.

"Sometimes we brush over the cracks that are there. When you lose, the cracks get exposed," Hansen said.

The loss of Sonny Bill Williams in the game has resulted in a four-game suspension and the call-up of Malakai Fekitoa.

Williams was disappointed because he had let the team down.

"One of our biggest mantras is the team comes first and he knows he's let the team down, but we can't go back and change it. People make mistakes. It's a fluid game, a fast game and a physical game.

"Unfortunately he's made a mistake and we've got to move on from it.

"Sonny's paid a big price and the team's paid a big price for him making a mistake and we have to wear the decision. That's just the way it goes," Hansen said.

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The consequence of Williams' dismissal was the side was now facing losing only the second series to a Lions side – the first occurring in 1971.

The fact that Williams had been dismissed, Lion Mako Vunipola had been given a yellow card and that Sean O'Brien had been cited, although the case was subsequently dismissed, was rugby was a physical game and one of its attractions was the varying nature of rugby.

"One of those natures is the brutality, the intensity that comes with it. You are asking people to be warriors, within the law, and that's what's happening. Is some of it close? Yeah. But it always is.

"There's not a genuine Test match that doesn't challenge you physically, that doesn't challenge you mentally. It's great for rugby, and it's great for this team of ours. We're having to learn, as a young team, how to cope with that. So it's good," he said.

"Rugby has been needing something like this for a while. It's now got it, so everyone will be a bit nervy about that because it could go either way and how exciting is that?

"It's moments like this that go down in history and excite young people to say: 'Hey, I want to be part of this', not only as a player, but also as a fan," he said.