Rugby World Cup 2019: Steve Hansen concedes starting Scott Barrett backfired against England

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen admitted naming Scott Barrett to start over Sam Cane might not have been one of his best decisions. 

On Thursday, Barrett was named for his first test start in the No.6 jersey, with Ardie Savea switching to openside flanker and Cane coming off the bench for the first time since the 2015 World Cup. 

Hansen made the move in order to target England's lineout, as Barrett has a 10cm height advantage on Cane, adding how he made a huge impact off the bench when the two teams met last year. 

But the move didn't go to plan and Hansen brough Cane on to start the second half, but by then the damage had been done as England held a 10-0 lead. 

England went onto win the match 19-7, to book their place in the Rugby World Cup final. 

Scott Barrett competes with Courtney Lawes in a lineout.
Scott Barrett competes with Courtney Lawes in a lineout. Photo credit: Reuters
Rugby World Cup 2019: Steve Hansen concedes starting Scott Barrett backfired against England

Hansen conceded he got it wrong by promoting Barrett to the starting line-up, while refusing to blame Barrett for throwing him in the deep end. 

"If I turn round and say it backfired, then Scott is going to feel pretty average. So I'm not going to turn round and say it backfired. I'll take that one on the chin," said Hansen of a rare selection misfire on his behalf.

"Scott came out and played as well as he could. Did we want to win some more lineout ball? Yes we did. But we didn't. It takes more than one person to do that.

"If we had our time again we might consider doing something different."

While Hansen though he'd made a good selection move at the time, the vibe was different in the England camp who saw this as a great opportunity to attack the breakdown, which they nailed to perfection. 

"When you pick tall lads like that Scott, there is an opportunity to work a bit lower," said flanker Tom Curry.

"It came to fruition today. It was a big focus for us, especially getting attacking momentum going against New Zealand. It all starts at the breakdown.

"Rugby is a 23-man game. You saw they brought Sam Cane  on in the second half. I thought we dealt with it well. The set-piece was good."

After stamping their mark early in the contest, Curry said it was important to not get carried away. 

"We know the All Blacks are a one to 80-minute team. They score a lot of their points in the final 20 minutes and that was a major focus for us this week, to stick in the fight.

"We wanted to shock them and we handled the first 20 minutes. Was there a point when I thought we had them? Yes, at 80 minutes. When the whistle went, we got them. We had to stay focused for the entire game.

"Games like this are massive, especially in the semi-final. We wanted to have passion because that drives English rugby, but also have control to maintain our focus."

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