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Hansen relishing new challenge

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Sportal.co.nz     11 Aug 2012     Getty Images

With all countries having named their squads for the campaign Hansen said some outstanding players were going to be involved. The South Africans and Australians were ranked Nos 2 and 3 in the world while Argentina was a tough side to crack, especially at home.

"It's going to be a really, really big challenge from a player point of view but I think there is just as big a challenge for ourselves about 'How do we get better?' both individually and collectively.

"If we can crack that nut then we have got enough talent to be a pretty handy side," he said.

The Sonny Bill Williams issue has still not been resolved, the latest hiccup being a request from Japanese club Panasonic for Williams to undergo a medical test. That was completed on Friday.

Hansen wasn't getting concerned over the time being taken to have him confirmed for the two Tests but was hopeful of a resolution by Friday overnight.

Hansen said the Japanese club would want to know what they were getting and there was always a risk because he was going to play two games they didn't expect him to play. A medical test then provides evidence of his state of fitness before the All Blacks stint.

The Japanese club was just doing due diligence and that was fair enough so far as Hansen was concerned.

He said people were starting to get panicky and it reminded him of the saga surrounding Richie McCaw's foot last year.

Hansen said the issue wasn't disruptive to the side because while they had assembled in Auckland they would not be starting their build-up to the opening Rugby Championship game until Monday.

The good thing going into the preparation was the state of fitness in the camp with only lock Luke Romano needing to take things easy over the weekend as a result of the shoulder injury sustained in the Super Rugby semi-final against the Chiefs a fortnight ago.

A training game of 20 minutes each against Counties Manukau and Auckland on Friday was seen as a chance for returning No.8 Kieran Read to build some confidence ahead of the Test matches.

"It's not a do-or-die thing, it's good for his confidence and he'll get through the game. He got through training well and he's done quite a bit from a physical point of view over the last 10 days so he's feeling confident," Hansen said.