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That's Wales, now for the 'big boys league,' says Hansen.


STEVE HANSEN has put Wales firmly in their place in the world pecking order by declaring that New Zealand are now heading into the "big boys league."

Next up for the All Blacks is the Tri-Nations series against South Africa and Australia, with the Springboks providing the opening opposition in Auckland on July 10.

The Kiwis will go into that campaign on the back of a 66-28 thumping of Ireland and two triumphs over Wales, who were beaten 42-9 in Dunedin and 29-10 in Hamilton.

"We now step up into the big boys league and I think we can go in there with some confidence, as long as we keep things smart and simple and people do their jobs," said forwards coach Hansen.

Commenting on Saturday's victory at the Waikato Stadium, the ex-Wales boss said: "I think it was a pretty awkward night. It was a real messy game and there were a lot of collapsed scrums.

"It was one of those games you find it difficult to get into as a player because there's no real continuity and we made mistakes with the ball."

All Blacks head coach Graham Henry - another former Wales boss - made a point of praising Warren Gatland's team.

"I think they are a good side, I always have done," he said.

"I think they've got a lot of good players and there were a number who didn't come. There's probably four or five Welsh boys back home who would be in the Test team.

"I think they played well.

Their continuity of possession was good and they played particularly well in the second half, so that shows a lot of spirit.

"They never gave up. They tried to the end and scored a great try. So I am sure they are pleased with their progress from last week. I think they are a very good side."

Giving his general verdict on the Hamilton clash, Henry said: "The game was a bit messy.

"There was a bit of ball turned over and dislodged at the tackle, which was a wee bit disappointing."

He was also frustrated by the way the scrums went, highlighting that area of the game as a real problem for rugby generally.

"They were inconsistent," he said. "I think there's far too many penalties from scrums in rugby these days.

"I am sure we can do better. I've never been in a scrum, but I think we can do better, just for the game's sake.

"We've got to be very strict about head and shoulders above hips and everybody pushing square. If we do that, I think we'll have a better game.

"I still think there are too many people playing games up there in the front row. It just destroys the game as a spectacle and makes it frustrating for the guys playing. So I think we've got a lot of work to do in that area."

But, overall, Henry declared himself satisfied with his team's work over the past few weeks.

"It's been a good series for us and we've developed a platform to go on from here," he said.

"The good thing is there a number of options looking ahead to the Tri-Nations, which I think is the most difficult international competition in the world.

"There weren't those options at the start of the international season, so we've developed some depth."

Henry yesterday named a 28-man squad for the Tri-Nations, with fit-again centre Ma'a Nonu reintroduced into the set-up. New Zealand squad Backs: Daniel Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Richard Kahui, Mils Muliaina, Ma'a Nonu, Rene Ranger, Josevata Rokocoko, Conrad Smith, Benson Stanley, Piri Weepu Forwards: John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Tom Donnelly, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Keven Mealamu, Liam Messam, Kieran Read, Brad Thorn, Victor Vito, Sam Whitelock, Tony Woodcock


Steve Hansen
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 28, 2010
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