All hands on deck for Eden Park decider, says Hansen

The world champions had a rare off night at Olympic Stadium, missing tackles and coughing up turnovers to surrender the Rugby Championship trophy and lose their first match against the Wallabies in four years.


Though having beaten Argentina and South Africa in the southern hemisphere tournament, and Samoa in their season-opener, the All Blacks have failed to click as a side in all four matches.

With the Bledisloe Cup on the line, the annual trophy contested by Australia and New Zealand, Hansen was quick to dismiss any notion that he might fiddle with new combinations ahead of the World Cup.

“From a selection point of view it’s been critical we’ve been doing what we’re doing, but we’ve said the Bledisloe, outside of the World Cup, is the most important thing to us, so we have to really batten down the hatches now and make sure we get the next week right,” Hansen told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

Though Hansen threw Nehe Milner-Skudder a debut test cap — and was rewarded with a brace of tries from his fleet-footed winger — the All Blacks beaten 27-19 by the Wallabies were close to full-strength.

Hansen may be grateful for the return of explosive centre Ma’a Nonu, however, who is likely to replace Sonny Bill Williams at inside centre after the dual international suffered a lower back injury early at the Olympic stadium.

After heading back to the team hotel from the stadium, Hansen threw himself straight into preparations for Eden Park but found few positives in the video review.

“It doesn’t get any prettier,” he said.

“There are a lot of things we can improve on. The big thing is we can’t afford to panic.

“We have a plan that we are playing too and this week we have to make sure we get the critical few things right and adjust one or two things we are doing and get better at it.

“There will be some people thinking I can do better than that. The people who missed the tackles are usually pretty reliable and they’ll be hurting and so they should be.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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