Hansen ready for break­down back­lash

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

AUCK­LAND: The All Blacks will pre­pare for a greater con­fronta­tion at the break­down as a des­per­ate Bri­tish and Irish Lions look to level their Test se­ries in the sec­ond match in Welling­ton, coach Steve Hansen,

pic­tured, has said. Hansen’s side sur­prised many by con­fronting the Lions up front, run­ning much of their at­tack close to the ruck and us­ing Sonny Bill Wil­liams and Ryan Crotty as bat­ter­ing rams to se­cure a 30-15 vic­tory at Eden Park.

That adap­ta­tion of ‘War­ren­ball’ – the tac­tic pre­ferred by Lions coach War­ren Gat­land to get over the ad­van­tage line – en­sured the All Blacks punched holes in the Lions de­fence, forced them into 165 tack­les and grad­u­ally wore them down.

Hansen, how­ever, said the vis­i­tors had ap­peared to ig­nore the break­down and at­tack­ing chan­nels close to the ruck in or­der to set up their wide de­fen­sive screen and he ex­pected they would not make the same de­ci­sion this Satur­day.

“I thought they were rea­son­ably non-abra­sive at the break­down by al­low­ing us to get the ball we wanted,” Hansen told re­porters on Sun­day.

“They wanted peo­ple on their feet to set up a de­fen­sive line rather than at­tack­ing us at the break­down.

“Maybe they’ll look at that.”

Hansen, how­ever, added that by com­mit­ting more play­ers in close to stop the at­tack­ing plays off the scrumhalf and to the break­down would open more space out wide, which play­ers like fly­half Beau­den Bar­rett would be able to ex­ploit.

“It gives you more space to at­tack,” he added. “I think we caught them com­pletely by sur­prise by play­ing off nine as op­posed to 10. They will look at that.”

Hansen is ex­pected to make at least two changes to his start­ing side in Welling­ton with full­back Ben Smith un­der­go­ing con­cus­sion pro­to­cols while Crotty dam­aged his ham­string.

Hansen hinted he had seen enough of Bar­rett at full­back and Aaron Cru­den at fly­half in Satur­day’s vic­tory to con­sider play­ing the duo in the re­spec­tive po­si­tions next week.

Red her­rings and tonguein-cheek state­ments aside, the coach, how­ever, is more likely to shift Is­rael Dagg back to full­back, where he has played the ma­jor­ity of his 63 Test caps.

How Ju­lian Savea plays to­mor­row for the Hur­ri­canes could also de­ter­mine whether Hansen shifts Rieko Ioane, who scored two tries on Satur­day, to the right and brings the bul­lock­ing Welling­to­nian onto the left.

Waisake Na­holo, how­ever, could also just slot onto the right wing with Dagg’s po­ten­tial move to the num­ber 15 jer­sey.

Se­lec­tion con­nun­drums aside, Hansen was keen to re­it­er­ate that they still had work to do, the Lions would come back hard and that noth­ing was won yet.

“It’s just a start,” Hansen said. “We have got a lot of work to do be­cause they ex­posed us in a cou­ple of ar­eas.

“We hold the ad­van­tage in that we’re one up. They will chuck ev­ery­thing at us to stay alive and we have an op­por­tu­nity to wrap it up.

“It will be a mas­sive game. But all three Tests will be. We said months ago this would be a big se­ries.” – Reuters

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