Right place, right time for Whitelock

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Lynn McConnell     13 Nov 2017     Getty Images

It's a case of right place, right time for Whitelock who was called in after playing for the Barbarians against the All Blacks in London last week as cover for the ill Liam Squire.


Hansen said in the team chosen Whitelock was the obvious person to lead the side.

"He's the one guy that's got the experience to do the job. Being the captain of a team doesn't come down to how long you've been in it, it's whether you're good enough to do that and he's definitely got the ability. He's a natural leader, he's been leading them for most of the week.

"He's got captaincy history behind him for the Highlanders against the [British & Irish] Lions as an example and for Canterbury for the last few years.

"He'll do a good job, I'm very confident he'll be fine," he said.

Hansen said the team had been training since Monday of last week and he expected they would play some good rugby if the weather permitted.

He expected the France XV to be very similar to the Test side in their performance. They would be physical, they would pick and go through the middle of the ruck and their halfback would look to run with the ball.

"Both lots of squad members will be seeing it as a big opportunity for them to further their careers," he said.

Chiefs prop Atu Moli would play loosehead for the All Blacks in Lyon. That was where the selectors felt they would like to see him develop and they were working with him as a long-term project in that area but where the Chiefs would use him remained to be seen.

Hansen said tighthead was a tough position for a young player and while he was learning both sides he seemed comfortable at loose head.

"He's a good athlete which if you look at the make-up of our team with two really good athletes coming off the bench in the future would be quite handy," he said.

That wasn't the immediate future and not necessarily for the next World Cup but the management had a duty to prepare for beyond 2019 as well, he said.

Hooker Dane Coles is out of the tour having done an ACL in his knee and will return home after the Lyon game as he requires surgery. It is likely to have a four to six month rehabilitation period. Lock Luke Romano suffered a cut inside his ear when he was stood on while he also has a foot injury.

Captain Kieran Read appeared to be all right but that would be assessed again on Monday, French time.
Having had time to study the Test Hansen was especially pleased with the defence.

"We defended extremely well at times and really physically. We just let them off the hook all the time by giving away offside penalties and silly penalties," he said.

Several of the penalties were created by the play of French halfback in dummying and the All Blacks taking the dummies.

Hansen said Sonny Bill Williams' yellow card incident was a clear consequence of having played two codes where his action was allowable in the other. It had been a lack of understanding of the laws but it hadn't been a bad place to learn the lesson.

"The penalty was extreme but at the end of the day if he knew the law he would have caught it. It's an expensive way to find out but then again it didn't cost us a game; it wasn't a World Cup final, it wasn't a Rugby Championship final, it wasn't a Bledisloe Cup final so we just have to take it on the chin and move on," he said.

To have been there to take the catch he had done very well and apart from the incident he had played very well, he said.