‘Fekitoa and Crotty need time to gel’ – Hansen

Date published: June 12 2016

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen believes his new centre combination will, with time, improve defensively after their 39-21 victory over Wales in Auckland on Saturday. 

Hansen made special reference to the understanding and connection between Ryan Crotty and Malakai Fekitoa that will improve with time.

Concussion victim Charlie Ngatai would not be joining the team in Wellington, Hansen confirmed after speaking to the centre on Sunday and thought it’s best for him to be out of the environment with no pressure.

He would be looking at the side getting faster in their transition from attack to defence, and vice versa.

Hansen believes his men conceded too much space out wide which gifted George North ample space.

There also needed to be more clarity at the wider breakdowns with the backs being stronger over the ball and contesting for the ball better than they did.

“We need to put two together. There might be one or two changes but I wouldn’t think there’d be too many,” Hansen told the official NZ Rugby rugby website.

Looking at the losses by Australia and South Africa to England and Ireland respectively, Hansen said: “I don’t think people realise how difficult it is to bring players together from five different franchises, and in the case of Australia their franchises and South Africa theirs, and get them thinking on the same plane. It doesn’t happen just like that.

“When you get a team that comes well prepared like Wales, England and Ireland obviously have it’s a difficult assignment.”

The first Test was always a tough one so it would be interesting what happened in the next games, in all three countries.

Hansen said the Wales Test had been a shock for some of the players and a major reminder that there is a difference between Test rugby and the next level down.

He was guarded about whether lock Sam Whitelock would be over his hamstring injury in time to play in the second Test.