Steve Hansen: French win finishes successful year

All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo competes for the high ball against France's Brice Dulin and Virimi Vakatawa during the test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and France. Photo / Brett Phibbs.
All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo competes for the high ball against France's Brice Dulin and Virimi Vakatawa during the test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and France. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has judged his team's year a successful one after the hard-fought 24-19 victory over France in Paris this morning.

Hansen said after the rigours of Ireland in Dublin last weekend, the All Blacks toned down their physical activities during the week. And first-five Beauden Barrett, who had another excellent game, admitted his side seemed flat during the build-up.

"We just took our time and we didn't do a lot of running, we did a lot of mental preparation, a lot of understanding of what our roles were," Hansen told Sky TV. "While we did the work we needed to do, we didn't empty the tank, it was all about filling it up for Saturday.

"This time of year is a tough time - we went around the world twice in nine weeks, nine time changes in seven games, so the boys did well."

Barrett, who set up Israel Dagg's try after only eight minutes, and scored a crucial try from an intercept in the second half, said: "We knew it would be tough to back up tonight.

It's been a different week, the edge hasn't been there but we acknowledged that and the boys got back up tonight. It was quite an ugly game, we didn't get the flow we wanted, but we'll take that here."

Barrett admitted the cross-kick for Dagg's try was a planned move. "It was called. The wings have been great recently, calling that kicking space. If they want it I'll just kick it there - it's one way to stretch teams because there's got to be space somewhere.

"We felt we didn't play a lot of footy in that first half but we were quite excited about the possibilities with turnovers. We felt if we could make the most of them and build some phases we could get some plums but we were made to work really hard."

Hansen's next assignment after a deserved summer off will be leading the team against the touring British and Irish Lions, something he referred to in his post-match interview.

He also paid credit to the All Blacks' set piece, with the flawless lineout especially notable.

"Our scrum did well and our lineout was outstanding, I thought," Hansen said. "To lose Brodie [Retallick] to a calf injury... we've found a goodie in Scotty [Barrett], he's come on and done a great job. Sam Whitelock has been great all year, along with Reado, so very happy.

"We controlled the game in the last three minutes, we could have done that a wee bit earlier, but we probably kicked the ball a bit much this week.

"At the start of this game if we'd said we'd only lose one game after losing all of those legends and test caps and experience, it's been a pretty good year for us.

"The two young midfielders [Anton Lienert-Brown and Reiko Ioane] who finished the game tonight [were excellent]. We've got to be pleased about what we've achieved throughout the year. We'll go home and have a good summer and really build for this Lions series."

- NZ Herald

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