One-off Test keeps pressure on All Blacks

Steve Hansen press conference 1566173300

While scheduled originally as the third Bledisloe Cup Test of the year, that had changed with the Cup already decided.


"Our job will be made difficult because of that, it's a one-off Test match. There's been a lot of talk about it being Bled 3 but the Bled is already gone, it's finished. It's a one-off Test match and winner takes all so we need to be right on top of our game," he said.

Australia's ability to believe in itself, even when it hadn't been winning as consistently as it might have liked, made it an ever-present danger, something the All Blacks were well aware of due to the history between the sides.

While the All Blacks had been more involved with their games with South Africa and Argentina since they last met Australia, it had only been recently that he had switched his attention back to Australia.

They had been under pressure due to their losing although their last effort against Argentina would have set them up for a good northern tour, he said.

It was disappointing that centre Reece Hodge had been forced out through injury because he had played well for Australia this year and had been a rock for them.

Hansen also felt Australia would benefit by its decision to stand by coach Michael Cheika through to the Rugby World Cup.

Continuity had been proven over and over again to be a pretty good recipe and pointed to Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson who had been close to being sacked before carrying on to do the job for 30 years while Jose Mourinho was having his issues at the moment, he said.

"I just think sometimes we pull the trigger too quickly on the coach. Sometimes I guess it is warranted but most of the time I don't think it is," he said.

In Australia's case by confirming Cheika as coach it had given the players a secure platform because they knew the coach was secure and once that happened people could get on and do what they had to do, he said.

Hansen said the All Blacks' selection for the Test was made with the aim of having two playmakers on the park and because he had played fullback, Damian McKenzie was chosen for the role which allowed Richie Mo'unga to come off the bench as well.

Lock Brodie Retallick was on the bench because he hadn't been playing and his only physical involvement had been at training.

The fact the Bledisloe Cup was sewn up allowed them to do a little experimentation and halfback TJ Perenara deserved to get a start against a good side, he said.

Aaron Smith was not playing as well as he wanted to and he was frustrated but Hansen felt it was more what the opposition were doing to the All Blacks than his own form.

With Sonny Bill Williams playing his 50th Test, Hansen recalled he had first come to the All Blacks from Toulon with not a lot of rugby behind him. He was, and still was, a driven athlete who had come to know himself better.

"He's a lot more aware of who he is and what he can do and how he can do it and he understands the game a lot better. He hasn't had much of a go this year because of injuries, it's been a stop-start season which has been a bit frustrating for him and us but he's definitely matured into a very good rugby player and if we can keep him on the track, and get some games into him, I think we'll see that," he said.

Steve Hansen press conference 1566173300


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