Hansen fully expected All Blacks performance
MARC HINTON IN CHRISTCHURCH
While most of us turned up tonight not quite knowing what to expect from these new-generation All Blacks, coach Steve Hansen had a fair idea that something special was brewing.
What transpired was a classy three-try 30-0 dismantling of the French, marking the All Blacks' 500th test, and skipper Kieran Read's 50th, in spectacular fashion. It sent the full house of over 21,000 home on a wintry night warmed to their souls after a quite heartening performance from their men.
It also sealed the three-test series, and Dave Gallaher Cup, with one clash still to go in New Plymouth next Saturday night.
"It was a performance that we expected," said a deeply satisfied Hansen last night. "We felt at training we'd gone up about nine or 10 cogs. The accuracy was there, the sharpness was there and that's just spending time together.
"We got our game right, our kicking game was good, our chase was good and our defence was simply outstanding."
While Hansen was rapt with a clinical attacking display, he admitted holding the French scoreless for the first time in the teams' 53-test history had been the most satisfying aspect of the evening.
"Defence wins game because it shows the attitude and what the team are about with each other," added Hansen. "Aussie [McLean] has made a couple of little changes which I think have helped our defence as far as getting people in the right places.
"The game was in the balance until that period [early in the second half] where we did defend for a long time, then got the opportunity to strike and took it. I was pleased with both areas [of the game] but defence wins by a nose tonight."
Hansen also had special praise for the efforts of Read and big lock Sam Whitelock who sucked up a still healing broken finger and stepped in at late notice to replace Brodie Retallick who went down with a hamstring strain.
"The skipper was outstanding. He's been leading the side tremendously well, and he's totally assured about how he wants to do that. Playing wise he's just doing what he always does - he sets the standards really high, and gusted his way through a hit in the back just before halftime.
"With Sam, the expectation is if you're not named in the 23 you're still preparing to play. What happened this week has happened numerous times before and you've got to be ready. He was totally professional and it wasn't a problem for him."
In terms of next Saturday, Hansen said the plan wouldn't change despite having so many players in such rich form
"We'll look at what we're trying to achieve and have a plan for that. The series has been won, and we've talked about taking risks, so we may have the opportunity to make some changes. I wouldn't say we'll make a lot but we will look at the long-term plan as well as the short-term one."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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