All Blacks test their options in New Plymouth

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Lynn McConnell     07 Sep 2017     Getty Images

They also saw the game as a chance to continue the development of the players named in a match situation.


Coach Steve Hansen explained the injury consideration was reflected in the decision not to play second five-eighths Ryan Crotty. After the injury frustrations he had suffered this year they felt it was worth leaving him out so he was fresher when going into the Test against South Africa next week.

Wing Nehe Milner-Skudder's selection was down to the skills he showed in 2015 and before injuries.

"He's been a very good All Black for us in the very little amount of time he's played but then it's a case of saying, 'Right is he physically and mentally ready to come back in and do the job?'

"That's what we've been looking for and that's what we've started to see and now it's opportunity for him, and for us, to see if we have got that right," he said.

Blindside flanker Vaea Fifita will have his first start with an acknowledgment from Hansen that he was probably one of the best natural athletes he had worked with.
Since coming into the squad he had increased his weight by six kilograms and it was all power and strength and a credit to trainer Nick Gill and Fifita and the management wanted to see his physical prowess utilised while also completing his core roles of dominating in the tackle and when he carried the ball while also using his ball skills in the contact area as well on Saturday.

"We're expecting a lot from him because we believe he's got a lot in him. So we're going to aim high for him and he needs to aim high as well and if we aim higher I think he'll hit the target," he said.

Hansen felt some sympathy for Argentina's situation since coming into the Championship and having struggle to make an impact. They had gone from a team that was spread all around the world, something that had its ups and downs and then became a side who were brought together to play in the Super Rugby competition.

"Now they play four or five home games every year and then their next closest game is New Zealand which is about 15 hours flight away so it's a horrific schedule they've got and I think that takes a lot out of them. I certainly wouldn't want to be doing it," he said.
Hansen also wondered if playing together all year round kept them fresh.

It was not like New Zealand's situation where players came together in the national side from five different franchises and without the same amount of travel as the Jaguares/Pumas have.

They were attempting to make modifications to their game, away from their traditional forward strength. Hansen had always felt they had classy backs who were capable of beating people but that aspect of their game had tended to be put aside for a less riskier game.

Super Rugby provided them with the chance to develop a more rounded game but he didn't think they had completed that transformation yet.

"They are a good rugby team and if you don't respect them, and don't turn up ready to go, then they are capable of causing you problems," he said.