Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Hansen urges patience with game-plan

Steve Hansen is attempting to change the All Blacks' style

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen acknowledged the 24-9 win against France was less than convincing but felt the All Blacks had developed throughout the 3-0 series whitewash.

At times the world champions looked clumsy and struggled to retain possession despite comfortably seeing off Les Bleus, and Hansen could not shake the feeling that a far more comprehensive performance could have been achieved.

"I wouldn't say we're completely satisfied," he said. "The poorest part of our game was our ball maintenance, and, going into the next series, we're going to have to improve that."

The All Blacks will need to take another step up when they defend the Rugby Championship in August. In perfect conditions at Yarrow Stadium it was apparent they had not yet mastered the new game-plan Hansen introduced in the first two Tests.

In his first international appearance this season, star fly-half Dan Carter did not look comfortable under the structures that Aaron Cruden had had a chance to adapt to during his absence in Auckland and Christchurch. However, Cruden's performance during a 30-0 win last weekend is proof that, when executed right, Hansen's kick-run blueprint has merit.

All of Carter's 95 Test caps were called upon in the clutch and he slotted a vital penalty goal to earn his side the lead for the second time, amassing a total of 14 points with the boot.

"(The game) wasn't easy for DC (Carter)," Hansen said. "I think he would like to have another Test match next week to have another go. As we saw with Crudz (Cruden) it takes a bit of time to get into the saddle."

Securing his first series victory as captain, Kieran Read led admirably but was not immune to his own basic errors that overshadowed the performances of many, including Victor Vito. The Hurricanes blindside's reputation took a blow when he began his night with a knock-on and then failed to produce the physicality Hansen wants from his number six.

Read rued a lack of intensity at the breakdown in the first half but lauded the effort to turn things around after the break. Local hero Beauden Barrett made the result look convincing on the scoreboard when he dotted down in the final minute.

"Perhaps we didn't match them early on which gave them just a little bit of confidence in that area... it made for a tough night," Read said. "It took time but I felt we got to where we needed to be."

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