Hansen hopes rest pays dividends for NZ

Oct 9, 2017 - 12:01 AM All Blacks boss Steve Hansen hopes his decision to send Test quintet Sam Whitelock, Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Lima Sopoaga and Ryan Crotty directly to Cape Town for Sunday's win over South Africa pays off down the road.

All five players took part in the 25-24 triumph, having been rested for the side's 36-10 away win over Argentina a week earlier.

Star lock Brodie Retallick missed both games.

Hansen felt the quintet were off their best against the Boks, despite a calm bench cameo from Sopoaga and Crotty's opening try.

But, with a little luck, spelling them would prove a wise decision.

The world champions are barely midway through a gruelling travel schedule, with their third Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane still to come.

They must then board a plane for Europe and an end-of-year tour taking in Tests against France, Scotland and Warren Gatland's Wales.

"They hadn't played for three weeks, and were probably half a game short. We saw that in their performance," Hansen told reporters.

"They were a split second off where they are capable of being.

"Hopefully we'll get the benefits of doing (that) somewhere like Cardiff."

Hansen confirmed he'd take 37 men on his side's northern odyssey, and said he didn't see the need for a squad apprentice this year.

Both Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett have travelled with the All Blacks in a non-playing capacity in recent years, before transitioning into the Test fold.

There was already enough space in the squad for young players, according to Hansen, who confirmed his travelling party was almost complete.

"The things that might change that are injuries, (or) we may have to look at a couple of combinations," Hansen said.

"The last spots are always difficult - you're juggling, and they're always open to change if we get a mind-boggling inspirational thought late in the piece."

Hansen said Sunday's result, secured with a late Damian McKenzie try, wouldn't change any of his plans for next week's Bledisloe dead rubber.

Source: AAP

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