‘Mission accomplished for All Blacks’ – Hansen

Date published: November 15 2017

"Mission accomplished" was All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's assessment of his side's 28-23 win over the France XV in Lyon on Tuesday.

Several young players made their first appearances in All Black jerseys, in a white-hot atmosphere with a vocal French crowd having their influence in the game.

But Hansen felt the side had stood up well in the face of pressure.

"I was really proud of the young men, six of them were having their first game and there were probably another six who haven't played more than four games," he told Sky Sports. 

"They played some really good rugby, particularly early on in the game and there were periods were the French got momentum and they defended their hearts out. All in all mission accomplished." 

Hansen said there had been some frustrations about the game but they had nothing to do with the players.

He said the senior players in the group had responded well to the pressure.

"Dominic Bird had probably the best game I have seen him play for the All Blacks," added Hansen.

"Ardie Savea is coming along good now he's getting more game time and more physical. Ofa Tu'ungafasi came on and helped young Atu [Moli] at scrum time."

Captain Luke Whitelock said momentum had swung both ways in the game at times and they had been a typical French team in being tough up front with the ability to create things out of nothing.

"We had a good week's prep and for a lot of guys this was their first game in this sort of arena and intensity and everyone will be better for it and it was just great to get those guys the opportunity tonight," he explained.

"They had prepared themselves in the event of losing a player, as happened when centre Josh Goodhue was sin-binned in the 66th minute. They just had to believe in themselves and trust in their systems."

Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who is leaving the All Blacks at the end of the tour to play for French club La Rochelle, said it had been a great night in front of a fantastic crowd. It had also been a special occasion for so many young players having their first game for the side, he said.

There was no time for emotion about the game as he had to do his job first and foremost.

"They are a great bunch of men and a lot of them have got long careers ahead of them so it was pleasing they got to make their debuts and pleasing we got to have the victory," he said.