Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Game against the Pumas 'going to be a goodie' - Hansen

All Blacks second five-eighths Anton Lienert-Brown showed himself to be a new talent. Photo / Mark Mitchell
All Blacks second five-eighths Anton Lienert-Brown showed himself to be a new talent. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Australia have been dispatched and now the All Blacks will turn their attention to an Argentina side who will travel to New Zealand on a high after their victory over South Africa this morning.

The All Blacks, who retained the Bledisloe Cup with a 29-9 victory over the Wallabies in what was a bitterly-fought test in Wellington, will reassemble in Hamilton next Sunday for the test against the Pumas at Waikato Stadium in a fortnight.

A win against the Argentines, who beat the Springboks 26-24 in Salta, will put them in a commanding position in terms of the Rugby Championship with tests against the Pumas in Buenos Aires and the Boks in Durban to come.

The victory by Hansen's men at Westpac Stadium wasn't quite as emphatic as the week before in Sydney, won 42-8, but it proved once again that the All Blacks are on a different level in terms of their skill level and game understanding.

In the two tests against their trans-tasman rivals, the All Blacks scored 10 tries while conceding only one. They blooded a new talent in second-five Anton Lienert-Brown and coped well with the spoiling tactics of Australia, who arrived in Wellington with a refusal to take a backwards step but left demoralised, their coach Michael Cheika resorting to a swipe at the performance of referee Romain Poite and the Frenchman's non-existent pre-test meeting with Hansen.

Australia's next assignment is a test against South Africa in Brisbane in a fortnight. Already at a low ebb after their sixth consecutive test defeat, another loss would pile more pressure on Cheika and his employers the Australia Rugby Union.

The All Blacks machine, which stuttered on occasion in the drizzle in Wellington in the face of a vastly improved defensive effort from the Wallabies, is clearly on the right track, and Hansen will have even more options in terms of personnel in a fortnight.

Midfielder Ryan Crotty and hooker Codie Taylor will be available to play the Pumas, Hansen revealing today that the Crusaders pair, out with concussion, could have played last night if required.

Argentina will ask different questions of the All Blacks in terms of their set piece, but it's hard to see how they can seriously challenge the world champions, who have now won 13 tests in a row.

The performance on debut of 21-year-old Lienert-Brown was truly special and Dane Coles' performance at hooker suggested he is one of the best tight forwards in the game at present.

Told the result of the test between the Pumas and Springboks, Hansen said: "It's going to make our Hamilton game a goodie isn't it? They were pretty unlucky [against South Africa] last time. They were right in the hunt until the last few minutes.

"That's good. Both of those sides are playing well and it's now for us to take a wee breather and in the middle of the week we'll start to look at them a bit more thoroughly."

There is unquestionably a lot of pleasure for the All Blacks in sealing the Bledisloe Cup for the 14th year in succession, but little for the pain that Australian rugby is going through. Former skipper Richie McCaw spoke beforehand of his hope that the test in Wellington would be more of a contest that the humiliation in Sydney, with Hansen saying afterwards that it was important for the game that the Wallabies bounced back.

"We want a strong Southern Hemisphere game and we want our closest neighbours to be really strong," he said. "They'll come right, though, I'm confident of that. They've certainly go the players to be a very good side."

- NZ Herald

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