Lions tour: Beauden Barrett was always going to be he man to steer All Blacks to a series victory – Steve Hansen

  • 29/06/2017

History may have been on Steve Hansen's mind as he settled on Beauden Barrett to remain the All Blacks playmaker for the second Test against the British and Irish Lions.

With New Zealand leading the series 1-0, coach Hansen made two injury-enforced changes to his backline for the Test in Wellington on Saturday.

Game-breaker Waisake Naholo comes onto the right wing, with Israel Dagg moving to fullback to replace the concussed Ben Smith.

The other starting change is centre Anton Lienert-Brown's promotion from the bench in place of Ryan Crotty (hamstring).

Hurricanes bulldozer and former Warriors NRL back Ngani Laumape is set to make his All Blacks debut from the reserves, in the only change there. 

Hansen said he considered fielding the backline that finished Saturday's 30-15 win at Eden Park, when Aaron Cruden was introduced from the bench and versatile Barrett shifted to fullback.

However, the selectors' faith in Barrett as the team's premier playmaker won out.

"At the end of the day, we wanted Beauden to steer the ship at 10. Then it became a no-brainer," Hansen said.

"It's all about who we wanted in the driver's seat at the beginning of the game and where we want to go later in the game."

Meanwhile, Hansen has no doubt Laumape can back up from his powerhouse display on Tuesday for the Hurricanes in their 31-31 draw with the midweek Lions.

"He played very very well. He didn't leave us with too many options after watching him play, did he?" Hansen said.

"He just continued the form that he had in Super Rugby into what was a level above that, playing against a good international side."

Hansen said his side will need to brace for a Lions side desperate to keep the series alive.

"The job is far from done; it's going to require us to take our game to a higher level," he said.

"It's going to be very demanding, physically and mentally."

AAP 

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Email
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Viber Share to WhatsApp Share to Email