One of the key coaching strengths of Steve Hansen is his ability to nurture emerging players. He's patient and realistic and quite smart in the way he goes about building them up.

I was delighted to see both Lima Sopoaga and James Broadhurst given their opportunity overnight. As soon as I saw they were in the side, my gut feel was that they would both go well.

There are a few things that made me feel that way. The first was the quality of the players around them. If you start with Lima, he'll have Aaron Smith on one side of him, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith on the other and Ben Smith and Israel Dagg behind him. That's a massive amount of experience around him and he'll have gone into the test knowing that all he had to do was his job.

That's what I think Hansen has done so well. He has made it easier for young guys to come into the team, feel welcomed and encouraged to be themselves.

Advertisement

But the real reason I was confident about Lima was that he was the form No10 in Super Rugby — I don't think anyone could say he wasn't. The longer the competition went on, the better he got and I would think he's got every chance of making it into the World Cup squad if he can show he can handle himself a this next level.

That's largely the same with Broadhurst. He's a big man and a good athlete — the sort of shape and size that could do really well at test football. He's tall and, although he's big, he's good in the air, too.

He's one of those locks who has taken a while to mature but that's not uncommon. There are plenty of others who haven't really started to play their best until their mid-to-late 20s. I'm excited at his potential and would imagine the All Black coaches are, too. He'll add to what the All Blacks are doing — he can carry the ball well, get around and make his tackles.

Regardless of what happened in the test at Ellis Park, I'm of the view that the All Blacks are shaping into quite a formidable team. What I particularly like is that they don't have an air of arrogance about what lies ahead.

They are the No 1 team in the world but know they are going to have to lift their game to a new level by the time they get to England for the World Cup. And that means on every level. I would say Broadhurst and Sopoaga were picked not only to signal that they are in contention to go to the World Cup, but to also remind a few others who were maybe thinking they were just about locked in, that they are not.