Jordie Barrett and Laumape have big roles in NZ future

Getty Images

Lynn McConnell     06 Jul 2017     Getty Images

Hansen said Jordie Barrett's ability under the high ball, of which they were expecting plenty in the Test, his good defence and his skills were all factors in his selection.

He had played well for the Hurricanes against the Lions and he came into the Test with the confidence of the selectors.

"He's a pretty cool, calm and collected kid and we wouldn't have put him there if we didn't think he was up to it. He's a young kid who, whatever he does on Saturday, it's just a beginning. He's just going to get better and better."

Hansen added that Laumape was a player the selectors felt was going to have a big part to play in the future and he had been selected because they felt his all-round game was just ahead of Malakai Fekitoa.

"He's probably been pushed up the ladder a little quicker than we want but again it is a great opportunity for him. He's an experienced athlete who's played a lot of big-time football for various other codes."

He had seen news items which suggested the sky was set to fall in because the All Blacks had lost last week. But, he said, the All Blacks had lost before.

There was always pressure to win on the side but it was only a game of rugby.

There were other things in life far more important and unsuccessfully performing CPR on someone for half an hour and then having to tell family members of the victim that they hadn't survived was real pressure.

A game could be won, lost or drawn but whatever happened the All Blacks would be a better team for it, he said.

"We're a young side who are in the infancy of where we're going," he said.

Hansen said the All Blacks' record at Eden Park, and its description as a fortress, had arisen because the side kept winning there but it was just a rugby ground with the same sized pitch as anywhere else.

He didn't think the Lions would consider it a fortress. They would consider the Test represented an opportunity but it was the same opportunity the All Blacks had.

Asked if it was worth a 10-point start for the All Blacks, Hansen joked that if it said 10-0 on the scoreboard when they ran out they would take it but he didn't feel that was the case.

The pressure that was on the side, not only this week but all the time, was part of what made the All Blacks who they were, he said.

"Our fans have a massive part to play in who we are because they have a massive expectation," he said.

They got nervy if the All Blacks lost and that was the case at the moment.

"People in New Zealand, and the Lions fans, are here because they love rugby. We've got great fans, they've got high expectations but our internal expectations then have to be higher and as a result of that we have got to where we have as a rugby nation.

"It's one of the reasons why we love the Lions because they bring passionate fans," he said, and what was seen when the Lions fans celebrated after the final whistle at the second Test in Wellington had to be good for rugby.

The All Blacks were looking forward to Saturday because it was going to tell them a lot about where they were heading, he said.

He acknowledged the 100-Test milestone captain Kieran Read would achieve on Saturday and said to play one Test was significant but to play 100 was fantastic.

The list of All Blacks who had achieved the feat were all world-class players from their time so it was 'a massive achievement', just as the 50th Tests being played by Aaron Cruden and Charlie Faumuina were achievements.

But there had not been a lot of talk about the achievements because the attention was being focused on the game itself, he said.