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Propping strengths have been an All Blacks bonus

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Lynn McConnell     10 Nov 2017     Getty Images

They will be tested again on Sunday (NZT) by a French Test team that has always looked to the scrum as an area for confrontation.

And being without Joe Moody and Owen Franks due to injuries and Charlie Faumuina, now playing in France, the All Blacks depth had been tested.

Hansen said his experience, since first being involved in 2004, had shown that players tended to stand up when there were opportunities and it was a case of polishing the rough diamonds into bright, shiny ones.

"We always seem to be able to find them and the trick of selection is looking deep enough to find them," he said.

Part of that was due to the influence of world acknowledged scrum coach Mike Cron.

"He's a legend," Hansen said.

"He's played a massive part in whatever team I've coached and he's always had a big part in it. When I first became a forward coach he was the guy I went to. He's just got better and better with time, he's like a great red wine, he's matured and got better.

"Look at Ofa [Tu'ungafasi]. So many people questioned his ability to be able to scrum, right now he's probably our best scrummaging prop, and around the park he's outstanding, because he's got the confidence to do the job that he's been asked to do primarily.

"He's an awesome asset to us and he's doing a fine job," he said of Cron.

Prop Nepo Laulala also had a better understanding of what was needed by the All Blacks.

"He's a reasonable athlete; you can only use the word reasonable for props, you can't say they are great athletes in the sense of being able to run around the park. They're great athletes when it comes to scrummaging and lifting, and he does that part of his game really well.

"He's looking to want to get better and that's all you can ask. But the more time he spends with us the more time he spends out on the park and in the Test arena the better he will get," he said.

Laulala had shown the hunger to get back in the side after suffering a bad knee injury following an initial taste of All Blacks' involvement.

Self-belief was also a big factor and Hansen said wing Waisake Naholo had been a little bit like Ben Smith when first coming into the side and not believing in himself but he had played well in the last couple of games and he would be given every opportunity to play on the tour.

"If he can continue to grow that self-belief then we'll see the real Waisake," he said.

While injuries had resulted in young players being introduced by France for the Test, Hansen said he didn't feel New Zealand was at its most experienced either as a result of injuries and unavailabilities.

"Both teams are trying to find their feet without those guys there. France have got more than us but I think that makes you just as dangerous, particularly the French because when they have no expectations on them they tend to turn up and really play well. And play with excitement and enthusiasm.

"They are the best off-loading side in world rugby at the moment and unless we shut that down we are going to be chasing our tail for a lot of the game," he said.