Lions will be a different beast for NZ

Coach Steve Hansen has ruled out any danger of the All Blacks getting ahead of themselves after a dominant dress rehearsal to their three-Test rugby series against the British and Irish Lions.


In their first hit-out of the season, New Zealand produced a 78-0 shutout of Samoa, running in 12 tries at Eden Park on Friday night.

However, Hansen’s assessment is that it was good “but it wasn’t that good” and the Lions will be a different proposition when the series opens at the same venue next weekend.

“We won’t get ahead of ourselves – the beast we’re going to get come Saturday is going to be totally different,” Hansen said.

“They’ll look to really target all our time and space with their line speed and they’ll look to dominate us up front.

“Unless we get those parts of our game right, then we’ll struggle.”

One of the features of the win over Samoa was the way All Blacks midfielders Sonny Bill Williams and Anton Lienert-Brown gelled, despite being a new combination.

With Ryan Crotty set to return from a rib injury, Hansen admits it will be tough picking between “three quality players”.

But he also indicated all three would get game time, in the same way the All Blacks started with Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, and had Williams come off the bench, at the business end of the the 2015 World Cup.

“We used the one-two-three punch in the World Cup because we had three really good midfielders,” Hansen said.

“I’m picking that all three of them will probably be involved at some stage in the game.

“Which order we do it in, we will just have to wait and see.”

The All Blacks coaches will be in the stands in Rotorua to watch the Maori All Blacks host the Lions on Saturday night.

Whether that match turns out to be a free-flowing affair or a dour contest, Hansen is picking that it will be instructive for giving insights into how the Lions will approach the opening Test.

“Either way, we will learn a lot about what they will be bringing next week,” he said.

With Samoa behind them, there’s no doubt excitement is building within the All Blacks camp ahead of their first encounter with the Lions in 12 years.

“Everybody has been waiting for this moment, haven’t they?” Hansen said.

“It’s like you’ve been given chocolates, and you’ve unwrapped them and you’re allowed to eat them.

“That’s the best part isn’t it?”