Steve Hansen: Scotland were perfect test for young All Blacks

New Zealand coach pleased with performance as world champions leave Edinburgh with a hard-fought 24-16 win

Steve Hansen admitted that Saturday’s hard-fought 24-16 win over Scotland provided the perfect test for his All Blacks squad.

The New Zealand head coach saw his second-string All Blacks side were given a rough ride at BT Murrayfield before they wrapped up the victory in the final six minutes with a try through lock Jeremy Thrush.

I think Scotland are a very good side on the way up. I really do mean that sincerely

Steve Hansen

With one eye on next year’s Rugby World Cup, Hansen opted to make 13 changes to his starting XV from last week’s win over England in a bid to assess his squad players.

“That was the perfect game for us,” Hansen said.

“They had to earn the right to win it, they had to stay mentally strong, they were put under a lot of pressure at times, and came through very well I thought.”

Hansen had to wave away criticism of his selection earlier in the week as he outlined his thinking, and he was happy that the squad he selected—which included centurions Richie McCaw and Dan Carter—came through.

“For this tour we wanted to give our young guys at least two opportunities,” Hansen added. “The USA was the first one, and this one was a big step up.

“We knew that and we couldn’t have asked for a better game.”

The All Blacks’ performance left a lot to be desired when compared to their usual offering, and Scotland will be disappointed not to have come away with a win, having shown the rugby world that their rapid development under Vern Cotter can handle the world’s best side.

For his part, Hansen went out of his way after the match to praise the Scotland performance as much as that of his own team.

“We had a lot of respect for Scotland and what they were going to bring,” Hansen said. “We’d done a lot of homework on them.

“I think Scotland are a very good side on the way up. I really do mean that sincerely.

“There was a period in the game where they wanted to play in their 22 and maybe when they review the game they will say they should have kicked that, because we defended that really well and put them under pressure.

“But they are a bit like [this] All Blacks team. They are young and learning and will get a lot out of this game—a lot of confidence, for sure, and some belief and that’s what they want.

“I think by the time the Six Nations comes around they will be right in it.”

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