Hansen hopes series will be remembered for right reasons

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Lynn McConnell     10 Jul 2017     Getty Images

Speaking on Sunday, the morning after the 15-15 draw that left the three-Test series level with two Tests decided on refereeing technicalities, Hansen said the series should be about the referees.

They were a separate issue to the contest and were an issue that World Rugby had to take ownership of.

"This series was about two very good rugby teams coming together and challenging each other in different ways and with different styles and it came out a draw so it's a shame we don't have another one next week," he said.

"It's [the third Test] a game we could have won and if we had taken the opportunities we created it would have been a game we would have won. It was an average way for it to finish as well but that's sport sometimes."

Hansen said from the longer-term perspective, the series had been good for the All Blacks.

"It's put us under a bit of pressure, some adversity and we've got to deal with that mentally, and as a group, so there's plenty of positives to come out of it.

"We've introduced two 20-year-olds [Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett], another couple of young backs and I thought we played some positive rugby last night.

"That was our problem in the first two Tests, we didn't play enough rugby and last night we did," he said.

The series had also been useful in exposing the All Blacks to issues from outside the rugby square and showing ways of how to cope with surprises.

"It's never going to be plain sailing, there's always going to be a road bump and it's how we deal with that road bump when it comes and that's important.

" As a coach you want a few road bumps because somewhere along the line they're going to hit you and if you haven't had them then you don't know how to deal with them.

"So we've had a bit of a road bump against a team of quality athletes, they were well-coached right across the board by all their coaches and we've come out and drawn the series with them," he said.

While there were claims that goal-kicking lapses had cost the All Blacks the series, Hansen didn't agree.

It would have been nice if Beauden Barrett had kicked more goals, he said. But if he had the nature of the games would have changed because you didn't know what was going to happen after them.

"He kicked some good goals and he's working through a technical issue that he knows he's got, and we know he's got it, but he's getting better and better with it. His kicking ratio was 81 percent up until last night so we can't complain about that, it was reasonably high."

While it was an obvious feature to pinpoint in why the All Blacks drew, it remained they hadn't taken their opportunities, he said.

Hansen said the selectors were comfortable with how they were placed with the departure of first five-eighths Aaron Cruden and prop Charlie Faumuina.

Lima Sopoaga had been involved long enough now to come in and Hansen said he was looking forward to how he went. And Ofa Tu'ungafasi had been working very hard with the management for three or four years without getting a lot of opportunities and had impressed in their live scrummaging. He would get a chance and would surprise people just how well he could do the job they were going to ask him to do.

Hansen also had a word for critics who felt the All Blacks had been compromised and had retreated from their position at the top of the game.

The reality was the series had shown there were other teams who could play rugby, especially when four of them were combined into one. So it was disrespectful of people to say a drawn series meant the All Blacks had gone backwards, he said.

"No Ben Smith, no Dane Coles – two of the best players in the world – no Ryan Crotty, no Sonny Bill Williams, no Waisake Naholo, no Rieko Ioane, so there's a lot of people who weren't there in the third Test.

"Did we play well? Yes, we played well enough to win the thing, we just didn't win it, we drew it."

People needed to stay calm and trust and understand the selectors did know a little about what they were doing, he said.